Truth in Labeling has been a topic of discussion during the short 2020 legislative session in Olympia, leading to several proposed bills that will impact the farm community. One, proposed by Representative Joel Kretz looks to require retailers to post a sign in the immediate vicinity to distinguish between “USA beef and “imported” products. For beef to quality for the USA label, it must be derived exclusively from animals born, raised and processed in the United States. The northeast Washington lawmaker said House Bill 2712 is just a labeling bill.
“And I think consumers have the right to know what they are eating, and when I get beef, it’s labeled as USDA American beef, often times in the present system it’s not. It can be from anywhere in the world, I think there’s about 20 countries importing beef into the U.S., and that has been used to drive down prices for the cow/calf man for many years.”
Kretz said if producers from other countries feel they have a great product, they should let consumers know. He said consumers excited about this legislation. Kretz said retailers have expressed some concern, when it comes labeling responsibility, but noted HB 2712 puts that responsibility on packers.
Speaking of the packing industry, Kretz said packers have expressed issued with the legislation.
“The reason they stated when they visited with me is ‘we do business with Canada, and some of the cows are back and forth’, so I offered we could solve that problem. If that’s truly your problem we could solve that with “North American” beef. Because the Canadian genetics, their management systems are really similar to ours, its good quality beef; not a problem. The problem for the packers is when they go back to a packing convention and they’re dealing with you know the three or four or five big packers that control the meat market in the United States. That’s where they’re going to get their push back.”
Kretz said he does not believe this legislation will trigger WTO issues. And if it does, he says he’s confident President Trump will push back.
HB 2712 cleared the state House on Tuesday. Now it heads to the state Senate.
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