Each week of the Montana legislature Montana Farmers Union will provide an update on legislative action. This session much of the focus is on the labeling of meat. Country-of-Origin labeling has been a key policy for Montana Farmers Union since policy was adopted on the issue in 2000. In February, members traveled to Helena to testify on HB206 introduced by Senator Al Olszewski (R- Kalispell) which would require Country-of-Origin(COOL) placarding for beef and pork retailers in Montana. MFU supported the bill, with amendments stressing the consumer’s knowledge of the origin of the meat as the key to transparency. Members Erik Somerfeld, Jeff Bangs and Will Downs testified on the bill. In addition representatives from Northern Plains Resource Council and the Montana Cattlemen’s Association also testified.
Member Jeff Bangs provided a history for the committee on COOL and the reason behind MFU’s backing of the bill. “We support this bill with the amendment because consumers have shown us that they will choose U.S. beef and pork and will pay for it if given the opportunity to do so,” said Bangs.
Member Will Downs spoke to the cell cultured meat, the way it is made and the impact on the industry. “What is preventing them from being competitive right now is sizing their operation,” said Downs. “This is a viable option for them to be producing meat and something we should consider and take serious when labeling meat.”
Ultimately SB206 was tabled in committee and resulted in a joint resolution that will be reviews by the Montana congressional delegation and submitted to the USDA. MFU is currently working with Representative Brad Hamlett on HB 594 which would require a placard of Country-of-Origin on beef and pork products. This bill is working its way through the house. Stay tuned for up-to-date information on this legislation. To access MFU policy download the 2019 MFU Policy Book
We believe in the benefits of a general farm organization, which bridges the divisions between commodities and spans the geographic diversity of the agricultural industry. Such a structure gives opportunity for all its members to participate in the processes of our society through the presence of a strong national organization. When buttressed by effective state organizations, which in turn find their strength in local and area “grassroots” alignments, the impact is most effective.While the Farmers Union is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates or provide financial support, members are encouraged to participate in the activities of the political party of their choice.To be an effective force, members must be involved in the organization. Such involvement demands communication and motivational focus from its leadership in order to accomplish its goals, to develop the talents of the membership and to foster feelings of self-worth as individuals and as a group.