Senators unveil voluntary meat labeling bill

Senators unveil voluntary meat labeling bill

Lawmakers are trying to prevent countries like Canada and Mexico from retaliating against the United States with tariffs but still allow purveyors of beef, pork and chicken to label products that are produced nationally.

Sens. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Chao names participants selected for drone pilot program MORE (R-N.D.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (D-Mich.) introduced the Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 on Thursday. The bill comes after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in May that the United States's mandatory labeling rule puts Mexican and Canadian meats at an unfair disadvantage in the U.S. market.

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Since the WTO said the rule violates U.S. trade obligations, Canada and Mexico have threatened to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on U.S. food agriculture and manufacturing if it’s not repealed.

The senators’ bipartisan bill would replace the mandatory country of origin labeling with a program that would allow processors to voluntarily label their meat products.

The bill would also allow manufacturers to use the same label they do now to ensure the meat has come from an animal that is “born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S.”

“Retaliatory tariffs won’t just impact meat producers and processors, but will also affect consumers, businesses and jobs, so Senator Stabenow and I have developed a solution that should work for all of them,” Hoeven said in a news release. “We cannot put ourselves in a position where Canada and Mexico can retaliate against us for mandatory country of origin labeling, but we can have a voluntary labeling program and still meet WTO requirements.”