A Steak in Ag

R-CALF USA may be defined as a non-profit producer organization, but our work benefits anyone who eats meat and lives in an economy that includes agriculture. We’re more than a producer organization; we’re your organization!

In a letter sent recently to the members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee (Committee) R-CALF USA urged the rejection of any effort to create a voluntary country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law.

The group’s letter points out that Congress repealed the popular COOL law “pursuant to a directive by the World Trade Organization (WTO).” R-CALF USA has long been critical of Congress’ capitulation to the WTO, calling it an example of how the U.S. has ceded far too much of its sovereignty to the international tribunal.

The group listed the following reasons why Congress should reject any attempt to create a voluntary COOL law for beef and pork:

1. Establishing a stop-gap, voluntary COOL law will foreclose our industry’s opportunity to reestablish a workable mandatory COOL law for beef and pork in a new Congress. Thus, a voluntary COOL law will cause the U.S. cattle industry to suffer long-term harm.

2.  Because four of the most powerful COOL opponents – Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National Beef – also control approximately 85 percent of all fed cattle slaughter in the U.S., at best producers will have but a very small opportunity to voluntarily label beef.

3. “Even though about 15 percent of the fed cattle market may potentially be controlled by COOL-friendly packers, most cow/calf producers and backgrounders and stockers sell their cattle to feedlot operators.  And, once their cattle are sold, they have no means to cause any downstream buyers to associate the beef from the cattle they have sold with a COOL label.

4. Indeed, of the 729,000 remaining cattle producers in the U.S., less than 4 percent are feedlot owners or managers that actually sell cattle directly to downstream packers. Therefore, a voluntary COOL law is likely to accord only a very small fraction of the nation’s cattle-producing population with any opportunity to label beef, while effectively denying COOL for all the rest.

“I don’t represent the beef industry,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, “I represent the cattle industry. Our members sell cattle to beef industry packers. The TPP will impact the cattle industry very differently than it impacts the beef industry.”

Bullard said this during a formal hearing held recently by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), Witnesses representing U.S. livestock and meat industries included R-CALF USA, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Cargill, Inc., U.S. Dairy Export Council, and U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association, an affiliate of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI, formally AMI).

R-CALF USA was the only livestock industry representative that opposed the TPP during the hearing.

For additional information on any of the topics mentioned, please visit http://www.r-calfusa.com.

R-CALF USA is funded solely by donations and membership dues. Please consider becoming a member or giving a donation. For more info or to join, go to http://www.r-calfusa.com, 406-252-2516.


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