Dear Editor, Why are some groups opposing MCOOL? |

Dear Editor, Why are some groups opposing MCOOL?


The editors and columnists in Ag Publications have often stated that if the ranching community hopes to get anything done they have to speak with one voice.  I agree.  However, some large organizations claiming to represent the cow/calf producers and feeders are not representing our interests.  One of the main issues that are dividing us is mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) of beef and pork.  Frankly, I am baffled as to why these organizations are opposing it if the cattle producers and feeders feel it would help them break even? 

In the first place, the Beef Checkoff people will tell you we must listen to our customers and give them what they want.  Apparently, they do not follow their own advice because every poll says our customers want to know where their meat comes from!  The checkoff people will also brag about increasing the export market for American beef.  The question I would like to ask is how do the consumers in these foreign countries know it is American beef?  I assume the contracts specify only American beef be sent.  If this is true the consumers in these foreign countries have country of origin labeling which means it can be done to the benefit of both the consumer and the producer. 

The other thing I notice is that as exports of American beef are increasing, imports of foreign beef to America are also increasing.  This gets me to thinking.  If we are shipping our good American beef to foreign nations, what are we doing with all this imported beef?

It is sad that the powerful and influential National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) does not support the cow/calf producers and feedlot operators if the issue negatively impacts the packers.  But what really bothers me is the American Farm Bureau (AFBF) has also swung their support to the anti MCOOL camp.  Apparently, they claim it would be a burden to the retailers.  I fail to see this as a problem since all the packages of meat displayed by these stores have a very detailed label.  Some even have cooking instructions!  If the imported meat is repackaged it carries a ‘Product of the USA’ label.  The retailers would not have any extra work if the packers properly labeled the bulk and packaged meat sent to them.  If the packers failed to label the beef, the bill presently in the Montana Legislature would let the retailer label it as ‘country of origin unknown’.  The only reason I can come up with as to why these agricultural organizations are opposing supporting cattle producers and feeders is they are afraid to show the American consumer how much foreign meat is in their grocery store meat counter.

Thank you

Ron Stoneberg

Box 37, Hinsdale MT 59241

(406) 367-9314