Editor’s Note: EAT LOCAL. Otherwise you’ll have no idea where your meat is actually coming from…
Bowing to trade retaliation pressure from the Mexican and Canadian governments, the House voted just days ago to overturn an American law requiring labels denoting country of origin on packages of beef, pork and poultry.
In May, the globalist-centric World Trade Organization tossed out a U.S. appeal, ruling instead that the labeling that required information stating where animals were born, raised and slaughtered is somehow discriminatory against the two U.S. neighbors. Both of those governments have vowed to ask the WTO for permission to impose billions in tariffs on American goods if the U.S. law is not overturned.
In response, the House voted 300-131 to repeal labels informing consumers about what country their meat was born and raised and slaughtered in, such as, “Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”
As reported by The Associated Press, the Obama Administration had tried to compromise:
The WTO ruled against the labels last year. The Obama administration has already revised the labels once to try to comply with previous WTO rulings. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said it’s up to Congress to change the law to avoid retaliation from the two countries.
Initially, the law was passed after urging from northern American ranchers who are in competition with the Canadian cattle industry. In addition, the labeling law was backed by consumer advocate organizations who liked the transparency for American consumers. Supporters of the law would rather the U.S. government negotiate with the two other countries to find a suitable compromise that allows the labeling to remain but would be acceptable to all.
What’s it cost, really, to print up a label?
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, noted that a repeal would be premature. “Our people deserve a right to know where their food is produced and where it comes from,” she added.
However, meat processors who purchase livestock from abroad, as well as many in the U.S. meat industry, have sought a repeal of the law, which they have opposed for years, including via a federal court challenge. They complain that the tiny snippet of information required on the label is somehow cumbersome and expensive.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has long backed the meat industry’s call for repeal, the AP reported.
“Although some consumers desire (country-of-origin labeling) information, there is no evidence to conclude that this mandatory labeling translates into market-measurable increases in consumer demand for beef, pork or chicken,” he said on the House floor during a recent debate, as reported by the AP.
After the vote, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the last thing that American farmers need “is for Congress to sit idly by as international bureaucrats seek to punish them through retaliatory trade policies that could devastate agriculture as well as other industries.”
The repeal bill goes beyond the muscle cuts of red meat that were cited in the WTO case. It would also repeal the country-of-origin labeling for poultry, ground beef and ground pork. Chicken industry officials have often complained that the law did not make much sense for them, because the vast majority of chicken consumed in the U.S. is hatched, raised and processed in the country.
“The legislation would leave in place country-of-origin labeling requirements for several other commodities, including lamb, venison, seafood, fruits and vegetables and some nuts,” the AP reported.
What other laws will be circumvented if TPP passes?
Some who want the labeling law to remain in place have mentioned the damage that other such requirements could suffer under provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” agreement currently under wraps but nonetheless the subject of congressional debate.
In a recently released “Critical Alert,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who has read the TPP in a secret room at the Capitol and who opposes it, said that, besides consolidating more power in the Executive branch, it would boost the U.S. trade deficit and give foreign corporations power to bypass other U.S. laws (and Congress).
“Barclays estimates that during the first quarter of this year, the overall U.S. trade deficit will reduce economic growth by .2 percent,” he said in a press release published on his Senate web page. “History suggests that trade deals set into motion under the 6-year life of TPA [trade promotion authority – fast track] could exacerbate our trade imbalance, acting as an impediment to both GDP and wage growth.”
Read Sessions’ full alert here.
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