FMI: Costs for Country-of-Origin Labeling Law Will Far Exceed USDA Estimates

WASHINGTON - The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has filed comments estimating that the record-keeping costs to implement the country-of-origin labeling law will be substantially more than the $2 billion estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In addition, FMI said that food retailers would require far more than the estimated 40 hours to set up a labeling system and one hour per day to maintain it. The typical retailer carries more than 600 beef, pork, lamb, fish, fruit, vegetable and peanut products covered by the law, according to FMI.

"As retailers use multiple suppliers for each covered commodity, records will need to be developed and negotiated thousands of times over so that the retailer will have the necessary information for each supplier of every covered commodity," said president and CEO Tim Hammonds.

The estimate completely omits any costs to segregate products by country throughout the supply chain; to design, print and attach the labels; to audit companies to verify that the labels are accurate; and to train employees, Hammonds said.

"The Florida country-of-origin law, which proponents view as a model, does not apply to frozen produce, muscle cuts of beef, pork, and lamb; ground beef, pork and lamb; fresh and frozen seafood -- which must also be identified as 'farm-raised' or 'wild-caught' -- and peanuts. The federal law requires a country of origin determination that is far more complex than that required under the Florida law," Hammonds said.
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