Navajo ranchers want imported labeled beef


CROWNPOINT, NM (AP) – Continuing drought and lack of rainfall in the southwest has forced rancher Majorie Lantana to cut the number of cows on the ranch she leases to the Navajo Nation.

The ranch, registered as Pitts Ranch 4, is located approximately 15 miles from Crownpoint. Lantana said the ranch allows 64 head of cattle, but she had to reduce that number several times because there is little grass on the course.

“There has been very scattered rainfall over the past six months,” Lantana said in a recent telephone interview with the Gallup Independent. “Right now I can only run 29 heads and complete. “


Drought is not the only concern

Lantana said she was a member of the New Mexico Beef Council and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. It was through these circles that she learned that beef from other countries enters the United States and is repackaged and labeled as an American product.

This, she said, adds more challenges to a market already affected by drought and pandemic lockdowns and regulations. This adds even more stress to ranchers and beef producers as they have to compete with cheaper products.

“The ranchers in New Mexico are very opposed to this,” she said. “We support for-profit cattle ranching. “

Lantana raised her concerns with Navajo Nation Council delegate Edmund Yazzie, who represents several Eastern Agency communities on the Navajo Nation Council.

Yazzie said he has heard from other ranchers on the imported beef issue before and was told New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Lujan has joined other members of Congress in co-sponsoring the America Beef Labeling Act of 2021.

Lujan, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the pandemic “has proven how important it is to have a strong, reliable local food supply and that consumers deserve to know where their food comes from.” .


America Beef Labeling Act of 2021

In short, the legislation aims to restore mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for beef. The proposed Senate bill states that the current beef labeling system in the United States allows imported beef that is neither born nor raised in the United States, but simply finished in the United States, to be labeled as a product of the United States.

Yazzie said this process is unfair for livestock producers and misleading for consumers and has decided to sponsor his own legislation on the Council of the Navajo Nation to support the Senate bill.

According to Yazzie’s legislation, “the United States Department of Agriculture estimated in 2012 that 18% of the beef available in the United States market is either from an imported beef product or from imported cattle converted to beef at a packing plant. American. Yazzie’s law says beef comes in from over 20 countries.

Yazzie said he was not opposed to these imports, he just wanted to make sure they are properly labeled and represented in the U.S. market so that consumers can make an informed decision on what they want to put on. their table.

Yazzie’s legislation passes through the committees of the Council of the Navajo Nation.

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