Efforts to implement country-of-origin labeling and restrict the U. S. Department of Agriculture grade stamp to domestically-produced cattle and meat continue to be steps in the right direction for the cattle industry, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) said.

These important issues are moving forward in Washington, DC, through the actions of the NCBA and state cattle associations.

According to NCBA President George Hall, the success seen by the industry on these issues is significant, and is directly related to NCBA efforts. "NCBA grassroots, leaders and Washington staff have made significant progress in country-of-origin labeling and grade stamp restrictions," Hall said. "Much more needs to be done, and we welcome all beef producers to join us in the fight." NCBA has combined forces with other state and national organizations to address these and other issues, Hall said.

NCBA was instrumental in developing research that shows consumers value labeling of U.S. beef, and has been critically involved in working to keep those in Congress aware of the many benefits of country-of-origin labeling to beef producers and consumers. In addition, the organization has worked to generate consensus on the best ways of implementing labeling to assure that it becomes a reality.

Congress last year, with urging from NCBA and other groups, approved a directive asking the secretary of agriculture to define "U.S. beef." This is the first step to develop a labeling program.

NCBA has also petitioned USDA to rescind the quality grade from imported carcasses, and, in January, USDA released a notice of proposed rulemaking on the policy.

"The industry must move in the same direction, and do it efficiently and effectively," Hall said. "While there are many different ideas on how to do that, the NCBA way is to do it democratically and openly. Coordinated industry efforts on these items certainly will contribute to that effort. I hope all beef producers will get involved in the process and help carry the beef producer messages to Washington, DC."

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