My View From The Country

You Call This A Fix For Mandatory COOL?

I see these proposed changes to mandatory country of origin labeling as just a lot of fluff, with no attempt to address the problem.

USDA published in the Federal Register this week its proposed changes to mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL). Now that everyone’s had a week to digest the proposed changes, I feel confident in characterizing the overriding sentiment as one of confusion.

It doesn’t appear the rule change attempted at all to bring the law into compliance with the World Trade Organization finding of last November when it ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico that MCOOL is inconsistent with U.S. obligations under several articles of the WTO agreement.Instead, the proposed changes unveiled last week only addressed the problems that many had with the original rule.

The new proposed rule would require labels on muscle cuts of beef and other meats to specify where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. It also would removethe allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.

The rule as stated is worthless. The reforms may address the total failure that the law has been, but it definitely will add more costs to the system. And it’s all irrelevant, unless the U.S. plans to abandon its WTO agreements, which seems highly unlikely.


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So I see these proposed changes as just a lot of fluff, with no attempt to address the problem. It appears to me to be an attempt to garner brownie points with proponents of MCOOL, while letting the law fall into oblivion without attempting to actually salvage COOL.

The USDA rule is strange, indeed, because it doesn’t address the WTO issues; in fact, it probably compounds them. The proponents of MCOOL do get some things that they’ve long hoped for, but they’re likely destined to lose the rule in its entirety.

It’s just more of the same old Washington, D.C. double-talk. They like to tell you what you’re getting, but what you actually get is usually almost directly the opposite.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 16, 2013

As I see it . The only beef that should be labled as product of the U. S. A .IS born , raised feed and killed in the USA . I have my own USDA meat lable .More over this varification is by athird party (thay are already in place ) This will put back the added money to us beef in over seas shipments . I am a cattle rancher That is how I see it!

wise to HSUS (not verified)
on Mar 18, 2013

I wish that as soon as we see how high the new tariffs to be levied against us as a result of these new mcool rules we can figure how much higher the price point needs to be to off set the added costs of these new rules. Once we have those figures then we might be able to quantify the impact upon the domestic markets. Every one crowing for this ruling needs to remember costs go down the chain, not up. Recent market analysis bears up to that, we are already seeing consumers steering away from beef due to costs.
I also understand there may very well be action from trading partners other than Canada and Mexico. This may well be an illustration on just how our markets actually work, not how some hope they will work. It's demand pull, not supply push which dictates how much the markets will sustain.

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Mar 18, 2013

I am a canadian producer. About half of the live cattle we sell to the US are Angus. Yet we can't sell our beef as Angus in Canada because we don't have the right to sell beef as Angus...........only Americans can do that. So the Angus beef which Macdonalds uses in their burgers here they have to buy from the US at a premium. Yet the beef we sell to the US sells at a discount. Some free trade agreement!

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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