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American cattle ranchers are ready to take on beef imports in the marketplace - as long as its a fair fight. According to the Colorado-based American Agricultural Movement (AAM), meat should be labeled so shoppers can choose between US meat or lower-priced imports. This would encourage free trade and competition, says Texas cattleman Derel Fillingim. ''What our food (store) chains do,'' complains Fillingim, ''is bring in inferior (foreign) meat and wind up selling it at domestic prices.''

Concern over meat imports has grown since the recent discovery that kangaroo meat was going into one fast-food chain's hamburgers. AAM lobbyists say labeling at meat counters and on menus faces stiff opposition from restaurant and supermarket chains.

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