Neb. Meat Producers Debate New USDA Rule

MGN Online
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LINCOLN, Neb. -- It's a USDA packaging rule in limbo that could end up making you pay more at the grocery store.

Nebraska's meat producers are now split over whether this helps them or not. The issue is labels on your food. Your clothes may say where they're made, but right now your food isn't required to.

"We want to feed our family healthy food," said Chris Abbott, a 5th generation cattleman.

And to Nebraska's ranchers that's American beef.

A legislative resolution currently stuck in the Unicameral's Agriculture Committee would send a message to Washington as lawsuits come in over whether or not food should have to be labeled with its country of origin.

"We're running into issue with WTO [the World Trade Organization] and right now we're into a dispute over the country of origin labeling," said Senator Ken Schilz of Ogallala.

For senator Schilz, the problem lies in the supply chain.

"What you have to do then is segregate all those cattle. All the way through the system. So, if you have cattle from the U.S., then cattle from Canada coming in, the packing plant actually has to stop all the production and then they have to start over and keep all that separate. And time is money and that's the important thing you have to figure out," said Senator Schilz.

And Senator Schilz said most likely those costs will be reflected in the final stage of the process, when you go to buy it at the grocery store.

But those who want the labeling said food safety is a critical issue here.

"We all know where our clothes come from that we have on. Our clothes don't make us sick. But what we put in our mouth does," said Abbott.

Senator Schilz added this is a marketing issue. If a producer wants their food labeled with the "Made in the USA" distinction, they can find a processor who exclusively does that.

But ultimately, he said it shouldn't be mandatory and is going to be more expensive to produce.