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WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has pledged to ensure that country of origin labeling "is implemented as Congress intended," according to a position paper on the Kerry-Edwards 2004 Campaign Web site.
"George Bush has stopped this important program from being implemented as a favor to the big meat industry," notes the statement, which is part of the Kerry campaign's effort to help "American family farmers and ranchers compete in today's global agricultural economy."
The American Meat Institute (AMI), along with a host of other agriculture groups and major industry trade associations -- including the Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association, United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Produce Marketing Association, and the National Fisheries Institute -- have long opposed the labeling mandate.
This is the second major policy position that has come to light within the last week that will directly affect producers and processors of America's $100 billion meat and poultry industry. Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported Kerry's support for a ban on meat packer ownership of cattle and hog operations. Sen. Kerry previously opposed a legislative effort to ban packers' ability to own livestock. But during his presidential campaign, Kerry has declared public support for the ban by joining his running mate, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), who supports the ban as well.
In AMI's response to the packer ban initiative, president and c.e.o. J. Patrick Boyle noted that it is ironic that Sen. Kerry claims to be fighting for America's farmers, yet is proposing policies that would put all U.S. farmers, producers, and processors at a competitive disadvantage globally. "This kind of protectionism might win a few votes in a tight campaign, but it will cost America's farmers dearly in the long run, because America needs economies of scale to remain competitive in the global market," Boyle said in a statement sent to the media.