Guest Author - Denise Oliveri
Do you know where your last pound of ground beef came from? Was it processed in the U.S., Canada, or another country even? Many Americans have no idea where much of their food comes from. They simply trust that their grocery market is providing safe foods to eat.
There is a law that has been in effect for the past five years that requires meat manufacturers to tell you where their products came from? The fact is, meat and other products can come from different countries. These products should have labels on them so consumers can easily see where their food came from.
The fact that this labeling has not been enforced may soon change. There are a flurry of reports that some seafood coming from China to the U.S. has been contaminated and could cause illness when consumed. These reports have started to raise concerns among consumers, making them more catious about what they eat. There is one silver lining in this cloud. Many of the Congress members who opposed this law five years ago are now gone. This leaves some room to get this law strengthened again.
It seems that the Agriculture Department never to took the proper steps to getting these labels appropriately adhered because Congress had time-and-again resisted in enforcing this law, and is not even slated to be discussed again until 2008.
Who wouldn't want this law in place and why? Places like grocery stores, large meatpacking plants, and other businesses who oversee getting products placed on grocery shelves do not want these mandatory labels because they feel that tracking and paperwork will be too cumbersome and they will have to raise their prices in order to comply with the law. President Bush is opposed to the law, as well. He reluctantly agreed to the law back in 2002 because it was part of a broader bill for the farm industry.
Who wants to see this law succeed? The law is popular with small, independent ranchers where farming is their life and their livelihood. They want to sell their own products, and enforcing the "Country of Origin" label on products will help them, obviously because most Americans will want to purchase products grown and manufactured in the U.S.
Representatives who are for the law are working hard to make sure that this law goes into streamline effect next year. As mentioned above, those opposed to the bill in earlier years, namely Texas Republicans, are not around, and this should help move the law along in a forward fashion quicker.
Getting to the MEAT of the Problem
Do you think this is a fair law to enforce? Why or why not?
Pretend you will be sitting in Congress the next time this issue comes up for a vote. Whether you vote for the law or against it, develop a poster showing why you are voting the way you are. You could use a diagram to show benefits to America for enforcing this law. You could use a Venn diagram to show how both sides feel about this issue (for and against) and place any similarities in the middle of the diagram.
Use the FSA Kids website listed below this article to learn more about how agriculture works. There are games, coloring pages, and more to help you learn facts about foods.
The revised law would not only pertain to meat products, but also fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other items that can come from foreign countries.
If You Were a Farmer