Editorial on voluntary COOL, By Gilles Stockton — Rescind the power we have granted the WTO

July 20, 2015

Dear Editor

I read the letters in the July 16th edition of the Western Ag Reporter from Jess Peterson and Dani Beer of USCA calling for the acceptance of the voluntary COOL compromise proposed by Senator Stabenow. I am sorry but I remain unconvinced. A compromise, if you can call this a compromise, is only good if what you retain is worth more than what you lose. In this case, to use the argument presented by Food and Water Watch: “Voluntary COOL is indistinguishable from total recall: meatpackers won’t use it, consumers won’t see it, and U.S. farmers and ranchers won’t benefit from it. We had voluntary COOL prior to 2009, and meatpackers refused to sell beef and pork with a ‘born and raised in America’ label.”

We need to consider what we are agreeing to and giving up by accepting voluntary COOL:

1. That the World Trade Organization WTO) has the right to overrule constitutionally passed legislation.

2. That consumers (and we are all consumers) do not have the inherent right to basic information about the origins of their food.

3. That the monopoly packer and the mega-giant retail food cartels have the right to maintain a non-competitive, non-transparent proprietary market structure.

We may not reverse any of these three issues easily or even soon, but that does mean that we should consider the current situation normal. Every opportunity to resist should be seized. If we lose COOL, we live to organize to elect a better Congress that will vote to re-legislate it. If we compromise by accepting voluntary COOL, we give all of the craven and corrupt Congressmen who voted to recall COOL a free pass.

The first thing that we can resist is the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty. The propaganda is always that if we do not enter into these trade treaties, then US exports will mysteriously disappear. The United States is the market that every country wants to access. All previous trade treaties have granted access to our markets without reciprocity. It is time for that to change. It is also time to rescind the power we have granted the WTO to overrule US laws and regulations. Since the TPP does not reform the harm caused by past trade treaties, we should not ratify the TPP. That is just plain common sense.

I look forward to further discussion both for and against voluntary COOL. This is an important issue with many repercussions beyond just a label on a package of meat. We dare not give up on protecting our national sovereignty and on restoring the integrity of cattle and beef markets. And we should also not give up on the goal of a readable label that says –

Born Raised And Processed In The USA.

Gilles Stockton

Grass Range, Montana