Montana labeling bill praised

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 21, 2005
by WLJ
The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) applauded members of the Montana House of Representatives for passing HB 406, the "Country of Origin Placarding Act," with an amendment to postpone implementation until October 2006 when the national country-of-origin-labeling is scheduled to be in place.
The bill, which passed the House by 63-37, requires specific commodities offered for sale in Montana to be displayed with a placard indicating country of origin of that food. The law will require producers, growers and shippers of beef, processed whole grains, honey, pork, poultry, and lamb to label each individual portion, piece or package of that commodity in a conspicuous place.
Bill Donald, a rancher from Melville and president of MSGA, said his organization supports labeling on both the state and national levels.
"The Montana Stockgrowers Association was an original proponent of national COOL," said Donald. "We think it is important to have our beef and other products labeled as to their origin. However, we realize we have to go about this in a manner that is economical and practical to ranchers."
Donald said the amendment to delay implementation of the Montana placarding act until 2006 will allow time for a national COOL system to be established, which will ease the burden of having a statewide-only system in Montana.
"Montana is a raw commodity state. We send most of our products out of state for processing before they return to Montana in retail form," said Donald. "If we were to try and implement this now, Montana retailers would have many more challenges than if we wait until labeling is required nationally."