House Democrat urges USDA to move forward with meat-labeling rules

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A top Democrat is urging the Obama administration to press forward with a rule requiring that meat producers label their products with information about where it came from.

In a letter sent Thursday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to enforce a controversial country-of-origin rule that would require meat producers to label their products with information about where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

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"American families deserve the complete story of where their food comes from," wrote DeLauro, who sits on the House agricultural subcommittee that is responsible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Meat packers have challenged the rule in court. They oppose the regulation because it would make it more difficult to use meat from Mexico and Canada in their products, and would make their products more expensive.

They have also warned that the language violates international trade rules and would result in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

The governments of Canada and Mexico have challenged the rule at the World Trade Organization, arguing it violates the trade body’s rules.

But some groups representing producers, including the National Farmers Union, back the rule, argue consumers should know where their products come from.

The WTO struck down the original meat-labeling rule in 2012, ruling it discriminated against farmers in Canada and Mexico. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture came out with a new version that the WTO is once again reviewing. It is expected to issue a decision later this year.