USDA may add more details to meat product labelsConsumers could soon know a lot more about where their meat comes from.
By: By Steve Roisum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Consumers could soon know a lot more about where their meat comes from: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering adding more information to product labels.
Right now, a Country of Origin Label (COOL) does not give consumers a lot of information — only where the animal was born. But the USDA wants to add more details like where the animal was raised and butchered. The proposed rule would also end the co-mingling of meat that comes from different countries.
Nick George is the President of the Midwest Food Processors Association, which has members in Wisconsin. He says that change alone could cost the industry millions.
“You're going to have to separate your processors,” George said. “Right now the processors are up to co-mingle, okay? It is going to be very difficult and very expensive.”
Processors may be wary of the change, but agriculture groups have embraced it. Kara Slaughter is the Government Relations Director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union. She says the new labels are a win for U.S. consumers and producers.
“Studies show that 70-80 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more for products they know came from the United States,” Slaughter said. “They're probably not going to pay double, but they’re willing to pay something more to know that they’re supporting local famers and that they're buying a quality product.
The COOLs were first included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The USDA will take comments on the proposed changes until mid-April. The new labels could be seen on meat labels as soon as May.