On Feb. 2 and 3, cattle producers from across America met at the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, annual meeting to discuss issues important to the U.S. cattle industry.

U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson pledged to introduce a bill called the Consumers Right to Know Act of 2001. Senator Johnson explained, "My new and improved legislation will require country of origin labeling--and require 'U.S. meat' to be defined as meat from an animal born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S." Johnson went on to say, "It is just unconscionable that two of our major trading partners, the European Union and Japan, require country of origin labeling on meat, but we do not in the U.S."

Leo McDonnell Jr., Columbus, MT, president of R-CALF, explained, "We have been working on this a long time. This is more than a producer issue--it is a consumer issue. With the lack of harmonization internationally that we see in production elements, such as pesticides and herbicides and some of the health issues in other countries that historically the U.S. hasn't had, it is important that we maintain the integrity of our product." McDonnell emphasized the point by saying, "The U.S. is working on source verification from the ranch gate to the consumers plate. It only seems logical that imports should be obligated to do the same. You not only improve the consumer's choices, but also protect the integrity of U.S. beef, which is produced under the highest standards in the world."

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