Support H.R. 2673, the Agriculture Appropriations Act of 2003
July 14, 2003
Members of the United States House of Representatives:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector, and region, supports language in H.R. 2673, the Agriculture Appropriations Act of 2003, that eliminates funding for the Department of Agriculture to establish mandatory country-of-origin labeling regulations for meat and meat products, and strongly opposes any amendments to strike such language.
Existing law already establishes requirements for identifying the county-of-origin of imported food products, including meat. Further requirements will raise food costs and impose additional burdens on U.S. firms and workers with no meaningful consumer benefit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to oppose such mandatory country-of-origin labeling provisions because:
Mandatory country-of-origin labeling is about marketing issues, not health or safety. Imported food products are subject to inspections before entering the United States and must meet the same requirements imposed on domestic processors.
Additional country-of-origin labeling requirements will increase enforcement costs.
Country-of-origin labeling is protectionist and is primarily intended to restrain imports and stifle competition. Mandatory labeling could create significant trade barriers and undermine ongoing U.S. efforts to reduce the trade barriers of other countries.
Producers who are seeking a market niche can already voluntarily label their products with the country-of-origin. Shifting the burden of labeling to retailers is unfair and consumers will ultimately pay the increased costs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes mandatory county-of-origin labeling is unnecessary, costly, and unrelated to health or safety. We urge you to vote against any amendment to H.R. 2673 that would establish funding for a mandatory country-of-origin labeling regulation.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce