The USDA also thinks farmers will dramatically increase their use of genetically engineered seeds. The government expects more than 79 million acres of crops will be seeded in G-M-O.
The projection is 71 percent of the U.S. cotton crop will be grown from G-M-O seed. In soybeans, 74 percent. And in corn, 32 percent will be G-M-O.
Farmers have come to enjoy the ease of using the biotech seeds, even though some export and domestic end-users remain resistant. It's likely pressure will continue to segregate G-M-O crops and there will be demand to label foods that contain them. In fact, labeling for a host of reasons is becoming more popular.
In Washington, part of the focus of current debate over the next farm bill is the proposed mandate to disclose where food is produced.
While country-of-origin legislation for certain food products has passed both the House and Senate … some farm producers are concerned the measure could be dropped in the final farm bill.
The House version calls for labeling only produce. The Senate version includes produce, but also includes labeling for meat and other products.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association recently revised its policy on mandatory country-of-origin … and now favors voluntary labeling of meat produced in the U.S.
Many fruit and vegetable producers, longtime proponents of a nationwide labeling law, are concerned the differing House and Senate versions could get whittled down to be virtually meaningless during the lengthy conference committee discussions to work out a compromise.
Meanwhile, "origin labeling" is also being discussed at the international level. Two South Dakota senators are asking the Bush Administration to push for tightly drawn country-of-origin labeling of cattle and beef in the World Trade Organization's Committee on Rules of Origin.
Currently the U.S. supports country of origin labeling based upon where the animal is slaughtered and processed. The senators want to include where the animal is "born, raised and slaughtered."