Washington , DC -At a press conference this morning, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm, announced introduction of voluntary country-of-origin labeling legislation. Upon introduction, the bill had 13 additional cosponsors.
The "Food Promotion Act of 2004," will amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish the voluntary labeling of produce, meat (including beef, pork, veal, lamb) and seafood with country-of-origin information. The bill is supported by 325 different groups and will allow producers to work with processors and retailers to provide labeling information in the marketplace in such a way that informs consumers and benefits producers.
"The legislation we are introducing today will strike the onerous mandatory system and require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish in its place a rigorous voluntary program," Goodlatte said. "This will allow producers to work with processors and retailers to provide labeling information to help them mark et their product. This approach, which benefits both consumers and producers, is preferable to a mandatory program which is more likely to hurt the folks it was intended to help."
Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm said, "When we passed the 2002 Farm Bill, we provided two years to review the country of origin labeling provisions in order to fine-tune them as necessary. Although the time period has slipped a bit, we now begin the legislative process of ma king the COOL provisions work, and I am confident we will end up with a better product."
Goodlatte and Stenholm were joined at the press conference by five producer groups representing America 's cattle ranchers, pork producers, seafood producers and produce grower-shippers who are supporting the proposed plan to label domestic produced fruits, vegetables, beef, pork and seafood with labels displaying U.S. origin. The representatives included:
Jim McAdams, Texas Cattle Producers, Lubbock , Texas , representing National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Joy Philippi , National Pork Producers Council
David Bernstein, General Manager of DNE of California, representing United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association
Steve Barnard, Mission Produce, representing Produce Marketing Association
Jeremy Drooger, Blount Seafood, of Rhode Island , representing National Fisheries Institute
DRAFT - Voluntary Country-of-Origin Labeling Legislation