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Agriculture Today

Independent cattlemen unite to support COOL

Independent cattlemen unite to support COOL
Executive Director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas W.V. “Bill” Hyman addresses members of the South Central Texas Independent Cattlemen’s Association Jan. 9 at Lew’s Patio & Grill in Floresville.

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Wilson County News
January 22, 2014

FLORESVILLE -- Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a hot topic among cattlemen across the nation, especially with the news that the U.S. House of Representatives might include an amendment to repeal the program.

Executive Director of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas (ICA) W.V. “Bill” Hyman gave an update on COOL during the Jan. 9 South Central Texas ICA’s quarterly meeting in Floresville.

This labeling law, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, is being challenged on three different fronts:

•Canada filed a compliance review through the World Trade Organization in mid-August.

•A case against the USDA in the U.S. District Court has been filed by Mexico, two Canadian, and six U.S. organizations (beef organizations, packers).

•U.S. Congress, via an amendment to the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the Farm Bill.

Hyman identified two House conferees from Texas -- U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer and Rep. K. Michael Conway -- who support the abolishment of COOL.

The addition of a Farm Bill amendment is being pursued after the first judge’s ruling -- in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia -- was in favor of keeping COOL intact.

Opponents argue that COOL should be repealed, due to the costs involved for implementation. Some question if consumers want to know where their beef is raised. Hyman questioned whether consumers want to purchase meat from other countries.

Homemakers prefer real beef, Hyman said, and added that a lot of products are being manufactured or processed overseas. “We [the beef industry] are the last one.”

Hyman reminded the cattlemen that the World Trade Organization ruled that COOL is “not unfair”; it gives a distinct answer to consumers as to where the beef comes from.

“COOL is a good program,” Hyman said. “If we don’t fight for it, the people in Austin aren’t gonna fight for it, nor the people in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Houston unless they have a connection to the cattle business. ... We got good congressmen and senators around the country on both sides of the aisle fighting for COOL.”

Beef check-off

Hyman also addressed how the beef check-off dollar promotes beef.

He further updated the cattlemen about the additional $1 dollar check-off for the state of Texas. Cattlemen will have their opportunity to vote on the increase in June. The election will most likely be held in cooperation with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service office. If the referendum passes, a cattleman may request a refund of the Texas beef check-off. More information will be forthcoming.

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, with the Texas ICA contributing $10,000, has established a COOL Defense fund. The local chapter contributed $4,100, according to South Central Texas ICA President Brad Cotton.

For more information about the COOL program, contact Hyman at 512-620-0162 or visit the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association website.

During the meeting, the group elected directors and officers. Watch for more in an upcoming issue of the Wilson County News.


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