Washington lobbyists for the Mexican government talked country-of-origin meat-labeling regulations with staff of congressman Juan Vargas.
While Brian Bilbray hung out at the club, back on the real Capitol Hill, staffers for House freshman Democrat Juan Vargas were meeting with lobbyists for the government of Mexico regarding “Country of Origin Labeling.” The regulation requires meat packers to disclose where their animals come from. For Mexican beef processed in the U.S., labels must say something along the lines of, “Born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” Opposed by the governments of Mexico and Canada, the labeling requirement was nevertheless retained in the recently signed farm bill, though influence peddlers for the butcher business tried mightily to kill it.
According to a foreign lobbyist registration statement covering the six-month period ending September 30, 2013, an outfit called Public Strategies Washington “gathered and analyzed information re: U.S. Trade Policy” and “engaged in ‘political activities’ as defined in the Foreign Agents Registration Act” on behalf of Mexico’s Secretaria de Economia. The lobbyists, who collected a total fee of $138,890 from the Mexicans during the period, reported they had “arranged via email and attended [a] meeting on June 4 with Rep. Juan Vargas staffers Janine Pairis, Legislative Director, and Scott Hinkle, Senior Legislative Assistant.” The lobbyists didn’t give any campaign money to Vargas, but did contribute $1000 to Democratic House whip Steny Hoyer, who by coincidence was set to be in San Diego last weekend to raise campaign cash for Vargas at his “Torrey Pines Golf and Family Weekend.”