In a DairyLine broadcast to a nationwide audience of dairy producers today, Ashley Burch, IDFA director of political programs, explained the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act, which the Senate Agriculture Committee approved yesterday, and highlighted IDFA’s efforts to gain support for the bill. She urged the producers to use IDFA’s political action center, www.dairycounts.org, to tell their senators to support the bill.
“Should one state with a population of 600,000 dictate labeling policy for a country of over 300 million people?
“Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee said no.
“On a bipartisan vote of 14 to six, Chairman Pat Roberts’ common-sense, national uniform labeling proposal for bioengineered foods was approved by the committee and will soon head to the Senate floor.
“If enacted, the bill would immediately and permanently preempt state labeling laws, such as the one about to be implemented in Vermont on July 1.
“Chairman Roberts’ constructive solution puts the Food and Drug Administration in charge of ensuring transparent labeling, and protects farmers and food companies from the enormous costs associated with a state-by-state patchwork system. In addition, Chairman Roberts' bill makes information more available to consumers through common standards and regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, four years after enactment, the Administration must report to Congress on the extent to which GMO information is being made available to consumers through voluntary claims and other means.
“Working through the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, IDFA and its members are heavily engaged in the effort to support a national, voluntary labeling solution.
“Executives from IDFA member companies and cooperatives have participated in meetings around the country with congressional leaders and their staff. Approximately thirty-five IDFA member companies have signed letters to the Senate Agriculture Committee and nearly half of all Senators have been contacted in the past week by IDFA members on this issue.
“As the bill heads to what is sure to be a contentious floor debate, the dairy industry must remain engaged and united in advocating for this legislation.
“The deadline for compliance in Vermont is looming and food companies are already faced with making difficult decisions and spending money to comply. Several other states are also currently considering their own labeling mandates.
“Only Congress can stop this impending chaos, and they’ll only do it if a united dairy industry, in coordination with other food companies and farmers, work together to be heard.
“The entire dairy industry – from farm to fork – should weigh in with Senators on the importance of this legislation. IDFA welcomes you to utilize our political action center, www.dairycounts.org, to quickly and easily send a message to your Senator to support Chairman Roberts’ legislation.”