BILLINGS, Mont., August 4, 2023 – Last Friday U.S. Reps. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) co-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives H.R. 5081, a bill that requires country of origin labeling for beef and that prohibits retailers from designating the United States as the country of origin of foreign beef.
The bipartisan bill already has six bipartisan cosponsors: Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Jill Tokuda (D-HI), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO).
The House bill is a companion bill to S.52, the American Beef Labeling Act, which likewise is a bipartisan bill that reinstates mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef.
Unlike the Senate bill that directs Administration officials to determine a means of reinstating MCOOL that complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the new House bill expressly states that no ruling by the WTO may affect the implementation of MCOOL for beef.
While the Senate bill reserves the United States label for beef from animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S., the House bill adds “packaged” to those criteria. Further, the House bill would impose a $5,000 per pound penalty for beef not in compliance with the proposed law.
Finally, the House bill requires the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report on the false labeling of foreign beef as originating in the United States during the 10-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The report, among other things, would require an assessment of the financial losses U.S. ranchers incurred because consumers unknowingly purchased beef originating in foreign countries under the assumption the beef originated in the United States.
Earlier this year, a nationwide poll by Morning Consult revealed that of the over 2000 registered voters polled, 86% of them supported MCOOL.
“We are grateful to the House sponsors of H.R. 5081 and will work closely with them and other members of Congress to include MCOOL in the 2023 Farm Bill,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.