July 8, 2015
Sustainability is today's buzzword. Webster defines sustain as "to cause to continue (as in existence or a certain state, or in force or intensity); to keep up, especially without interruption diminution, flagging, etc.; to prolong."
Enter the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). This group includes the largest meat retailers and meatpackers that want to control meat production. Fast-food giant McDonalds leads the charge followed by other globalists that will profit when this scam increases concentration and decreases competition.
The ongoing concentration of our food production presents a tremendous risk of disruption or contamination of our food supply, either by a terrorist attack, disease outbreak, or simple malfunction. It is also antithetical to our entrepreneurial free enterprise system because it creates monopsonies.
Monopsonies occur where many would-be sellers are able to interface with only one buyer. Thus, the creation of a global monopsony means cattle producers will have but one outlet for their cattle. The GSRB's pretext is that such corporate control over cattle producers will ensure safer, more environmentally friendly beef production.
But, what of the track records of GRSB members?
Recent contamination problems have originated in meatpacking plants with two notable exceptions: The first is classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) caused by feeding cattle byproducts to cattle. This problem persists in Canada where the latest case was confirmed on February 13, 2015. Classical mad cow disease has been avoided in the U.S. cow herd as the feeding of cattle byproducts to cattle was banned in 1997. The second is tuberculosis, which is an ongoing problem in Mexican cattle.
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Country of origin labeling (COOL) is the consumer's best friend because it empowers them to choose where they want their beef produced and to avoid beef from countries where cattle-related problems are known to occur.
Remember also the millions of pounds of recalled beef over the past few years. These recalls generally involved E.coli, which is a meatpacker-caused contamination.
The GRSB's suggestion that electronic tracking of individual animals from birth to plate will reduce the incidences of contamination is nonsense on its face. The problems with E. coli, listeria, and salmonella begin with overcrowding and the feeding of unnatural diets in the finishing phase of cattle rearing.
Visiting Lethbridge Research Centre scientist Gabriel Ribeiro stated, "People are feeding less than 10 percent forage in their finishing diets. What we're doing is transforming ruminants into monogastrics, and we can expect problems with that. That's not in their biology." This sets the stage for contamination in large meatpacking plants where things move at inhuman speeds.
We do not have widespread cattle diseases threatening the health of animals or humans at the farm and ranch level in this country. This reveals that the problem is not on the American farm or ranch, the problem is with the concentrated conglomerates themselves. The GRSB's push to electronically identify every cow is simply a trap for consumers and producers. Eventually this push will lead to the provisioning of only one source of cattle genetics for producers and one type of beef product for consumers. Ranchers already signed up are discovering they cannot use their usual, trusted seed-stock producers.
The end game of the GRSB is to have factory-type cattle production in the United States, thus mimicking what they have already wrought in the pork and poultry industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a willing facilitator to this travesty. Its blind eye to very poor meatpacker practices while promoting the ridiculous notion of tracking animal movement on farms and ranches is the height of malfeasance.
Thus, by hyping the buzzword sustainable and supporting the GRSB, the USDA is distracting consumers from the agency's very poor job of overseeing meatpacker conglomerates. This allows those conglomerates to feed their greed without improving their practices.
With one word the USDA and GRSB wish to bypass and eliminate competition from the organic, all-natural and grass-fed ranching operations that are associated with producing safe and wholesome beef, including those that sell direct to consumers. The USDA/GRSB team intends to accomplish this heinous act by forcing producers to adopt electronic identification tags.
So, how sustainable is cattle production without the GRSB?
During the Neolithic Revolution, 11,700-12000 years B.C., evidence of agricultural pursuits began. This allowed the transition from hunter-gatherer to organized societies with increasing populations. Societies have grown in population and have engaged in an increasing variety of pursuits. Thus in human terms and scope our agricultural history, including cattle rearing, absolutely and unequivocally qualifies as sustainable.
Poor practices in animal or environmental care lead to producers going out of business in short order. It is a truly brutal and self regulating process. The system would be even more precise and efficient if the USDA was stopped from facilitating meatpacker concentration and meatpacker control over producers as envisioned by the GRSB.
In sum, the group that has caused the most harm to our agricultural heritage is now attempting to take complete control of our food supply. At the center of their quest is domestic cattle production, which is the last vestige of large-scale, independent free enterprise livestock production.
Contact your congressional delegation to demand that the USDA stop supporting the GRSB's efforts to control independent cattle producers by requiring the individual identification of animals on American farms and ranches. Your tax dollars should not be committed for this purpose either domestically or abroad.
Taking this action will help protect your access to a safe, reliable and reasonably priced food source.
Taylor H. Haynes M.D.
Board Member R-CALF USA