In 2015, President Obama signed the Omnibus Bill which ordered the US Department of Agriculture to stop enforcing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. Since that time ranchers have been calling for the rules to be restored, not just to protect domestic beef producers from unfair competition, but to protect American consumers from animal products which may be produced in poorly-regulated  or unhealthy conditions.

by Marjorie Haun

Kimmi Lewis, a rancher and state representative from Colorado’s 64th District, which covers 9 counties in the eastern third of the state, has a history of defending ranching and agriculture. Last year she introduced a bill that would protect ranchers and their property from the overreach of aggressive federal agencies. The bill failed but had wide support from Colorado’s cattle producers and farmers. Hitting the ground running, Representative Lewis has already crafted a bill to be introduced early in the 2018 legislative session that will protect the interest of Colorado beef producers.

Kimmi Lewis Colorado House District 64–Facebook photo

The Country of Origin Recognition System (COORS) bill would amend the Colorado Food and Drug Act to ‘require a retailer to indicate the country of origin for beef sold to the public.’  The bill applies only to fresh beef that has not been processed or cooked, and places the onus on retailers to clearly indicate for consumers the country where the beef was raised and slaughtered. Under the provisions of the bill, retailers would be allowed to use a placards to specify that the beef is domestic and has been raised and slaughtered in the United States, thereby avoiding the expense of placing the information on package labeling. Beef imported from outside the United States would require the country of origin to be specified on a placard and/or package labeling. Federal regulations currently govern the inspection of retail beef products, and this bill would call for minor changes to the existing statute.

In 2015, President Obama signed the Omnibus Bill which ordered the US Department of Agriculture to stop enforcing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. Since that time ranchers have been calling for the rules to be restored, not just to protect domestic beef producers from unfair competition, but to protect American consumers from animal products which may be produced in poorly-regulated or unhealthy conditions.

Lewis is a Republican who serves on the Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources, and Public Health Care & Human Services committees. She runs cattle on her own ranch near La Junta, and is known as an outspoken advocate for the interests of rural Colorado. The Beef Country of Origin Recognition System bill (HB17-1234) is her latest piece of legislation, but during the 2017 session Lewis introduced the Equal Protection From Federal Employee Personal Attack bill; the Conservation Easement Tax Credit Landowner Relief bill; and the Clarify Requirements Formation Metropolitan District bill. Vicki Marble is the State Senate sponsor of the COORS bill and Lewis is currently working to garner Democrat support for the legislation as well.

You can see the current version of the COORS bill here.


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