WASHINGTON – The Food Marketing Institute has criticized a U.S. Department of Agriculture plan to have food retailers pay for some of the costs of country-of-origin labeling.

The Progressive reported that the FMI call the proposal "outrageous," and said Tuesday it is urging lawmakers to turn down the agency's proposal as a "backdoor method to pay for government regulation."

The proposal "violates the government's own definition of 'user fees,' which are supposed to provide the user a clear benefit," John J. Motley, III, FMI senior vice president of government and public affairs, told the magazine. The proposal would cost the industry $9.6 million in 2009, Motley said.

Some trade groups reportedly view the controversial retailer-funded user fee proposal as a USDA gambit to derail the measure, the magazine said. "It's just USDA's way of trying to kill this thing again," Margaret Nachtigall, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, was quoted as saying in press reports.