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Agriculture Today

Turning up the heat on COOL

Turning up the heat on COOL
PAT KOPECKI/Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com Cattlemen from Wilson and Karnes counties visit during the Oct. 22 South Central Texas Independent Cattlemen’s Association chapter’s quarterly meeting in Falls City.

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Wilson County News
November 6, 2013
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FALLS CITY -- Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat continues to be a hot topic.

W.V. “Bill” Hyman, executive director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas (ICA), gave a brief overview of the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) case during the Oct. 22 South Central Texas Independent Cattlemen’s Association chapter’s quarterly meeting in Falls City. This labeling law, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, is being challenged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The United States filed rules to be in compliance as ordered by the World Trade Organization in May.

Among the nine plaintiffs are the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. packers, and organizations from Mexico and Canada.

Four national organizations, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and the National Farmers Union, were granted a motion to “intervene in full” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since then, a COOL Defense Fund was created to assist those who support the revised COOL ruling, as posted in the May 24 Federal Register. Hyman predicts that if the U.S. government prevails, this will be appealed, and this case could continue to the U.S. Supreme Court. If so, $250,000 to $750,000 will be needed to fight for the COOL program.

The Texas ICA board already forwarded $10,000 to the COOL Defense Fund; a cattle drive is in the works to raise more.

To donate to the COOL Defense Fund, contact the Texas ICA at 512-620-0162 or visit www.icatexas.com.

As a cattleman, Hyman explained that those opposed to COOL want to “sell a brand,” not promote the animal’s place of origin. He added the international connections involved just want to sell a “brand.”

Tyson is the largest packer in the United States, Hyman said. JBS -- a Brazilian company -- owns Tyson. Brazil has three times the number of cows the United States has, not factoring the 2 percent decrease in the U.S. cattle herd, due to the worst drought in U.S. history last year. With the higher cattle prices, Hyman said, cattle from other countries will enter the U.S. market.

The United States is not being flooded with South American beef, partly due to foot-and-mouth disease in regions of South America, according to Hyman.

Currently, we are able to tell consumers that U.S. beef is the safest, highest-quality beef available using COOL labeling, Hyman said.

Hyman also addressed the beef checkoff program. Currently, the Texas Beef Council is considering an increase in the beef checkoff to $2 per head. Cattlemen will have an opportunity to vote on this increase next year. Hyman said the additional $1 per head is voluntary, and can be refunded at the end of the year by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The cattlemen also heard a presentation from Jody Gomez with Actagro Plant Nutrients. Gomez said the world population will double by 2050 and described how farming is transforming sunlight into money by using the four “r’s” -- right place, right time, right rate, and the right source.


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