Colorado Legislature to consider identifying USA beef

Farm Forum

DENVER, Colo. — On Jan. 5, state Rep. Kimmi Lewis and state Sen. Vicki Marble introduced in Colorado’s 2018 General Assembly a bill titled, “Beef Country of Origin Recognition System,” also referred to as the “Beef COORS bill” by the sponsors.

If passed, the bill would require Colorado retailers to place a placard in the immediate vicinity of beef products, including ground beef, that informs consumers as to whether the beef was derived exclusively from animals that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States, or whether the beef was imported or derived from imported animals.

Federal regulations allow beef products sold in Colorado to be labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.” when, for example, a multinational meatpacker like JBS imports beef from Australia and subsequently unwraps and rewraps the beef before selling it to a retail grocery store in Colorado.

The “Product of the U.S.A.” label can also be used in Colorado on beef derived exclusively from cattle born and raised in Mexico and Canada and then imported into the U.S. for immediate slaughter.

“The Beef COORS bill corrects the federal government’s deceptive labeling scheme by reserving the “USA Beef” placard only for beef exclusively derived from animals that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States,” said Lewis who also owns and operates the Muddy Valley Ranch in Kim, Colorado.

“The public will finally be able to distinguish between beef produced exclusively under the United States’ production and food safety standards versus beef produced in countries with different production standards and food safety systems that are not identical to ours,” Lewis added.

Lewis and Marble introduced a similar bill during last year’s General Assembly. However, about one-week before their bill was scheduled for a hearing before the state’s House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee, one of the bill’s fiercest opponents, the world’s largest beef packer and prominent beef importer, Brazilian-owned JBS, contributed $12.5 million to Colorado State University.

“This well-timed monetary contribution by JBS had a chilling effect on the committee and, unsurprisingly, our bill was defeated,” commented Lewis adding “And soon after that JBS was cited by Brazilian authorities for bribing nearly 2,000 government officials and shipping tainted beef in the world export market, and the company’s top executives were jailed for insider trading.

“We think our chances for a fair hearing this year will be far better than we had last year and because our bill is a no-nonsense bill that gives consumers important information about where their beef was actually produced, we think most Colorado legislators will enthusiastically support it for their constituents,” she concluded.