NOBULL: Ranchers applaud “hands off” COOL & livestock protections

Ranchers applaud ‘hands off’ of COOL and livestock provisions in Farm Bill

Billings, Mont. – The Western Organization of Resource Councils, a regional network of conservationists and family farmers and ranchers, today praised Congress for excluding
provisions in the House Farm Bill that would have rolled back the country-of origin labeling (COOL) program and limited the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address fraudulent, deceptive and retaliatory business practices of meatpackers.

The bill does require USDA to conduct an economic analysis of the COOL rules. The House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill by a vote of 251 to 166 on January 29, and the Senate approved the measure today, 68-32.

WORC Statement

“Independent livestock producers commend Congress for maintaining COOL and USDA’s ability to deal with unfair practices by the big meatpackers,” said Mabel Dobbs, a Weiser, Idaho rancher, on behalf of WORC. “Farm Bill negotiators faced an onslaught of meatpacker lobby attacks on COOL and USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration.

“We are proud to have been among the cattle producers throughout the country who rose up to defend these programs in the Farm Bill that are vital to maintain a fair, competitive
livestock market.

“Now that the Agriculture Committees and the full Congress have voted not to limit USDA’s authority to enforce our agriculture antitrust laws, we hope future appropriation bills do not include any such limits.

“We applaud Senators Tim Johnson, Mike Enzi, Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, John Thune, and Chuck Grassley for defending COOL. Farmers and ranchers appreciate their bipartisan leadership on this critical livestock and consumer issue.

“We are deeply disappointed that the U.S. Trade Representative joined the effort to undermine COOL in the final weeks of negotiations. We look forward to a WTO ruling later this month on COOL that will clear the way for meaningful meat labels that tell consumers where the meat they buy was born, raised and slaughtered.”