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USDA Rules Out Proposed Meat Label

May 29, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has ruled out allowing meat to be labeled as grown in North America if it is produced in Canada, Mexico or the United States.

Veneman came under criticism recently from members of Congress after she said would consider a request from Canadian cattle producers to develop a grown-in-North America label. The Canadians are concerned about a new law requiring meat sold in the United States to be labeled with its country of origin.

``We do not support, we have not recommended, nor do we have any intention of proposing a North American label as some have suggested,″ she said Wednesday.

She has said the labeling law will be difficult to administer because of the movement of livestock between the United States and its neighbors. Cattle are shipped into the United States from both Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered. Under the law, livestock must be born and raised in the United States to be labeled as U.S.-produced.

``Let there be no doubt that USDA intends to implement the country-of-origin measure as directed by the Congress,″ Veneman said.

Advocates of the labeling requirement say it will allow U.S. consumers to distinguish American from foreign products. Critics say the real intent is to protect U.S. producers from foreign competition.

The labeling requirement also will cover fruits, vegetables and farm-raised fish.

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