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US feedlot owners oppose beef labelling law on source country

Beef cattle producers in the US have filed a lawsuit to fight a new law that requires producers to label their beef with the country of origin, saying it will cost their industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

October 29, 2008  By Canadian Press/Brandon Sun

October 29, 2008

Pasco, Washington – Cody Easterday estimates that some 25 percent of the cattle at his 30,000-head feedlot come from Canada, with maybe a few cattle from Mexico in the pens.

But weeks after the government began requiring producers to label beef with the country the animals came from, Easterday estimates he is already getting lower prices for that foreign beef -as much as $30 per head.


It was just one reason he is suing the US Department of Agriculture to rewrite the beef labeling provision in what could be one of several attempts to overturn a law long sought by consumer and farm groups.

"It's a flawed law that's going to cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars," Easterday said.

The new law, required by the 2008 Farm Bill, went into effect Sept. 30. It requires grocery stores to identify the "country of origin" for meat, produce and certain nuts. Retailers have six months to fully comply before the USDA will begin enforcement.

Meat packers and retailers have long opposed the rules, saying they would be expensive and burdensome.

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