Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain, University of Missouri agricultural economists, recently examined the benefits and costs of country-of-origin labeling on the swine industry.

The Missouri economists say it is not a wise strategy to implement a costly program to inform Americans that 89 percent of the pork they eat is of U.S. origin when it appears that fewer than 75 percent of Americans are willing to pay a premium for U.S. pork.

If the labels are to have any credibility there must be some sort of verification program. Verification means increased record-keeping and increased segregation  that will add to the cost of marketing pork, say Grimes and Plain. Increased marketing costs will either mean reduced bid prices for hogs or retail pork prices will be less competitive with chicken and turkey, meats that are not covered by COOL.

What is not clear is that COOL offers any benefits to the swine-pork industry, say Plain and Grimes. Research indicates the number of Americans willing to pay a premium for U.S. origin meat is not large enough to translate into higher prices for U.S. certified pork, say the economists. Having 75 percent of consumers preferring to buy your product is not a good thing when you have an 89 percent market share.

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