Briefs: COOL resolution, interstate meat shipment, etc.
U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced a resolution in support of trade negotiations that allow for country of origin labeling (COOL) for US beef.
U.S. Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) co-sponsored the bill that calls for the re-implementation of mandatory COOL in a manner that is compliant with World Trade Organization regulations, said a Rounds news release.
Two national cattle organizations have shown support for mandatory COOL.
“Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for beef fits within our discussions on how to improve food security, transparency for consumers and supply chain issues, all of which have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening both producers and consumers,” said Rounds.
“It’s no secret that Montana ranchers raise the finest beef in the world, but American consumers have no way of knowing if the steak they’re getting at the supermarket comes from Absarokee or Australia,” said Tester.
R-CALF USA criticized the South Dakota congressional delegation for working on a resolution, which is not a bill, and even if it is passed, does not influence the law.
“South Dakota’s entire congressional delegation is trying to deceive you into believing that they do not have the authority to pass a new MCOOL law for beef. That is absolutely false. They are the only ones that have that authority, but they are abrogating their authority and responsibility by trying to blame someone else for their inaction,” said the member action alert.
R-CALF USA supported and helped promote an online petition of support for MCOOL that has been signed by over 375,000 people, and according to the organization’s alert, the group hopes it will inspire a member of congress to introduce new legislation requiring MCOOL for beef.
U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to pass the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response efforts.
“As of Friday, May 2, 2020, beef processing was down 26 percent and beef production was down 24 percent over the past four weeks compared to the same time period in 2019. This loss in processing has resulted in a reduction of 507 million pounds of beef and created a backlog of 667,000 cattle waiting to be processed. The pork and poultry industries are facing similar backlogs resulting in protein shortages nationwide,” wrote the senators.
Current law requires that beef must be slaughtered at a USDA-inspected plant – which are few and far between in much of the upper Midwest – in order to be sold across state lines. This bill would allow meat processed at state inspected plants to be legally sold across state lines, which could open up opportunities for the slaughter and sale of more beef, and give cattle owners more options for marketing their beef. South Dakota’s state inspection program is equal to federal inspection, says the state animal industry board.
Some states do not have state inspection programs.
Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated its hours of service (HOS) rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers, changes Gianforte has championed for years.
“As we have confronted the COVID-19 outbreak, America’s truckers have been among our nation’s heroes, ensuring our grocery stores and pharmacies are stocked and our health care providers have the resources they need,” Gianforte said. “But for too long, truckers have faced undue federal burdens and unreasonable red tape. Today’s announcement gives our truckers greater safety, increased flexibility, and more options as they meet the critical demands of keeping our nation’s supply chains moving.”
Since beginning to serve Montana in Congress in 2017, Gianforte has worked to provide regulatory relief to truckers, whether with HOS regulations or electronic logging device mandates.
According to the DOT, the modernized regulations announced today are “estimated to provide nearly $274 million in annualized cost savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers.”
The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion, 1,800-page coronavirus aid bill written by the Democrats.
According to American Ag Radio Network,
“The next round of coronavirus relief referred to as the Heroes Act, introduced by House Democrats would increase direct payments to farmers by $16 billion. The funds are expected to supplement the already planned $16 billion in payments. While the legislation focuses on replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program and providing an additional round of direct payments to Americans, the bill includes multiple benefits for agriculture.
“The Democrats plan would increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits 15 percent, and provide additional donation and feeding programs of commodities, including dairy. The bill also includes a proposed 45 cents-per-gallon payment of biofuel produced this year through May first, as biofuel plants are shuttering amid a demand drop,” said the Network, in a news story.
The Livestock Marketing Association said Thursday it supports livestock provisions included in the House HEROES Act, “particularly a dealer statutory trust to improve recovery in payment defaults and additional funds for producer payments to compensate cattle price losses.”
“A dealer statutory trust would improve recovery when a producer or livestock auction market is not paid for livestock sold to a dealer,” the association said. “While this is always important, the necessity to address this topic is greatly heightened today.”
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