Mandatory COOL still the stance for R-CALF USA
August 21, 2015
Billings, Mont. – At their 16th annual convention and membership meeting held in Denver, Colo., last week, R-CALF USA members tackled several tough issues facing their U.S. cattle and sheep industries. Among those issues was mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) and two new resolutions regarding COOL passed the first phase of R-CALF USA's resolution adoption process. This first phase involves the approval of policy resolutions by the members attending the annual convention. The second phase, which will occur within 45 days of the convention, involves a mail-out ballot to all of the groups voting members as they will ultimately decide whether a convention-passed policy will become the official membership policy of R-CALF USA.
The first COOL resolution reflected the group's serious concern that the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) adverse ruling against COOL was both improper and an encroachment on U.S. sovereignty.
The group wrote, "WHEREAS, the WTO has ruled against the sovereignty of the United States' consumer using a conflicted panel with a plaintiff trade representative as a judge. BE IT RESOLVED that R-CALF USA calls for the President and Congress to immediately withdraw the U.S. from the WTO."
The second COOL resolution addresses one of the factors the WTO cites as a contributor to the discrimination of foreign livestock – the fact that while the origins of all livestock are being reported, only about one-half of all beef sold in the U.S. is actually required to be labeled under the law. The reason for this is because commodities sold at restaurants or are ingredients in processed food items are exempt from the law's labeling requirements. To correct this deficiency, the group's members affirmed that they "support expanding the mandatory country-of-origin labeling to include all meats and meat products at all points of sale, so that the consumer will be fully informed about the origin of their food."
In response to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's pending final rule to allow the importation of fresh beef from Argentina and Brazil, countries that are known to harbor the live foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus, the group passed a strong resolution in opposition to the Secretary's plan. The resolution states that no imports of cloven-footed animals or fresh meat products from such animals should be allowed from any region where the presence of FMD is known or suspected or from regions that are not free of FMD without vaccination.
In direct response to the presentation by Wyoming rancher and attorney Tracy Hunt that disclosed the motivation behind the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (see discussion below), the group expressed its outrage toward the corporate-led effort to control the U.S. live cattle supply chain. It did so by passing a resolution that denounced the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
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Two additional resolutions were passed that addressed specific private property rights concerns. The first opposes the listing of sites on the National Register of Historic Places without first obtaining written consent from the private property owner upon whose land the particular place of interest resides. The second is an attempt by the group to prevent members of Congress from using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to reauthorize such non-germane projects as historic preservation and environmental initiatives. The group states that the scope of the NDAA should be limited to the defense of the United States of America.
In addition to the initial passage of resolutions, the group also nominated three current R-CALF USA directors to serve a second term on the board. Those directors are R-CALF USA President Bryan Hanson from S.D., Director Alan Pruitt from N.C., and Director Jaime Oberling from Ill.
To fill the director positions open because the current directors had served their maximum two terms,
Mont. rancher Jack Owen was nominated to replace Mont. rancher Maxine Korman and Colo. ancher Gerald Schreiber was nominated to replace Wyo. rancher Dr. Taylor Haynes.
All of the resolutions and nominations will be included in a mail-out ballot for a vote by all voting members of R-CALF USA before they become the organization's official policies or representatives, respectively. Voting members of R-CALF USA are defined as members who own cattle.