Dear Model T Folks,
Are you aware that the World Trade Organization, WTO, has found our Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) of meat a violation of their regulations. COOL is a law passed by Congress and signed by our president? Our acceptance of the WTO treaty is contingent based on the premise that any WTO regulation or ruling is null and void if it conflicts with US law. The WTO has given the United States until May 23 to comply with their ruling.
You need to make sure our government stands by the COOL law and supports American ranchers and farmers. Please call or e-mail your congressman and senators.
R-CALF USA is an association of independent cattlemen and works very hard to defend the American cattlemen against the multi-national meatpackers.
The following details are from R_CALF.
Please do everything you can to defeat this attempt by the WTO to overrule US law.
I am sure you want to see products grown in the USA labeled as such.
Deadline Looms for U.S. to Unwind WTO's COOL Clock: R-CALF USA Offers a Solution
"R-CALF USA is so determined to preserve COOL that it is aggressively fighting in all three branches of the U.S. government to defend it."
Billings, MT - The World Trade Organization (WTO) has directed the United States to modify its country of origin labeling (COOL) law no later than May 23, 2013. Supported by multinational meatpackers and meatpacker associations such as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Canada and Mexico successfully convinced the WTO that COOL violates international trade rules.
"Unless the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has already drafted a comprehensive, proposed rule to address the criticisms leveled by the WTO against COOL, there is insufficient time remaining for the public to have any meaningful input in the rulemaking process," said Mike Schultz, Chair of the R-CALF USA COOL Committee and Director of Region VI.
In June, a three-judge appellant panel appointed by the WTO issued its final ruling in favor of Mexico and Canada. The WTO ruled that the U.S. COOL law discriminates against cattle from Canada and Mexico by creating an incentive in favor of processing domestic livestock and a disincentive against processing imported livestock.
One of the three deciding judges appointed by the WTO was a Mexican national.
"It is outrageous for the WTO to enlist a Mexican national to support Mexico's and Canada's efforts to undermine our COOL law that was democratically passed under our U.S. Constitution," said Schultz.
In September, Mexico and Canada filed a separate complaint with the WTO, this time complaining that the United States was being unreasonable in asking for 18 months for which to modify COOL to comply with the WTO's June ruling.
The United States explained it would take at least 12 months to bring COOL into compliance with the WTO ruling through modifications to the implementing rules, or regulations, for COOL. If a new law was needed to change the COOL statute, the U.S. said it would take "substantially more time" than 18 months.
On November 22, however, the WTO directed the U.S. to implement the WTO's ruling no later than May 23, 2013, regardless of whether the U.S. chooses to implement the ruling by regulation or by statute. Thus, the WTO has directed the U.S. to complete an agency rulemaking within six months of its decision, in half the time that U.S. law would provide.
"It is equally outrageous for the WTO to demand that our federal agencies short circuit the right of U.S. citizens to actively and meaningfully participate in agency rulemakings, which necessitates ample time for USDA to draft a proposed rule, provide adequate public notice, and provide sufficient time for the public to submit thoughtful comments," Schultz added.
Schultz explained that R-CALF USA is so determined to preserve COOL that it is aggressively fighting in all three branches of the U.S. government to defend it.
To defend the United States' sovereign right to implement and enforce COOL so U.S. consumers can know where their food is produced, Schultz said his group has engaged the judicial branch of government.
"We joined in a lawsuit with the Made in the USA Foundation and other cattle and consumer groups that was filed in federal district court in September to challenge the WTO's authority to undermine our domestic laws," he said.
Schultz said his group also is actively lobbying the legislative branch of government. "We've been encouraging members of Congress to resist any efforts by USDA, USTR (Office of the U.S. Trade Representative), multinational meatpackers or their associations like the NCBA to weaken our U.S. COOL law in any way."
Because the current battleground over COOL is in the executive branch of government, Schultz said his group has been focusing considerable resources towards the USTR and USDA agencies. During the U.S. appeal of the first adverse decision by the WTO, R-CALF USA submitted a comprehensive, 17-page memorandum to USTR and USDA that identified numerous flaws in the WTO's adverse ruling and suggested many arguments USTR could use in defense of COOL.
"Many of the arguments suggested by R-CALF USA in its memorandum were included in the United States' appeal brief," said Schultz.
"The challenge right now is to unwind the WTO COOL clock by taking some meaningful action prior to the WTO's May 23, 2013 deadline," Schultz said. For that purpose, and in response to a request from USTR for suggestions, R-CALF USA submitted comprehensive suggestions to USTR and USDA on how the U.S. can proceed with a rulemaking that would address the WTO's criticisms while actually strengthening COOL.
"The WTO complained that COOL does not always provide accurate information so we suggested that UDSA initiate a rulemaking to eliminate one of the worst inaccuracies in COOL - the loophole that allows exclusively U.S. beef to nevertheless bear an inaccurate label indicating it is a product of two or more countries," explained Schultz.
Another major WTO criticism is that record keeping requirements for distinguishing imported livestock from domestic livestock are too burdensome. "To address this problem we suggested that USDA adopt a 'presumption of domestic origin' methodology that will completely eliminate the need for any records, Schultz commented. Schultz explained that if U.S. Customs and Border Protection required all imported livestock to be permanently marked with a mark of origin, then the origin of every animal can be accurately determined without any records: Those with import markings would be ineligible for the USA COOL label but eligible for a label denoting whichever country the animal's mark identifies. Animals with no import markings would then be presumed exclusively domestic and eligible for the USA label.
"We're leaving no stone unturned in our quest to defend and protect COOL," Schultz said adding, "But, if the U.S. is going to keep its regulatory options open, USDA must act swiftly to propose rulemaking language that we hope will be similar to what we suggested. If it doesn't, U.S. citizens will be deprived of their right to actively and meaningfully participate in the democratic rulemaking process," concluded Schultz.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516
Ted, I find this a little strange as I am pretty sure there are regulations over here that requires all meat to be labeled with country of origin regardless of origin.
Of course all labeling should be done the same regardless of origin so for example danish meat may not be marked much different than German or US beef.
The devil is in the details.
Its not only strange, its ridiculous, but it is the fact.
Big, big money defeated the COOL initiative for almost all foods that was on our ballot in Nov. The opponents said COOL would cost the consumer $Millions, and said some ridiculous items were included, but not beef.
Very few times have I read so much that says nothing. The only info I gathered out if this long discourse is that there are requirements on food (meat) labeling that we agreed to but object to. If you are going to bring up something off topic here, at least tell us some specifics of what you object to, not just others ranting about not liking the new rules
Oh yes, don't expect all of us to agree with you.
I'm with Dale.
Is our meat labeled incorrectly?
If you can't get to the point in the first 10 pages you will lose me.
Here is the point the WTO is overruling US law.
It is important that we make sure the federal government doesn't just roll over and let this happen.
If meat can not be labeled with country of origin, then where will it stop.
One World Order is just around the corner. With the UN, WTO and our own Congress and Supreme Court, the US Constitution is about to become just another sheet of paper. We are about to loose our sovereignty.
Ted has a point. Because of WTO, to which the USA voluntarily joined, the ROW (Rest of World) is now saying our own practices violate the intention and prior agreements and we are ‘fiddling’…apparently to take more market share for exports than we agreed to with WTO, or to find a way to slow import amounts that are allowed under the same agreement.
When the politicians get done with it, we won’t know which or what it was.
The WTO is a lot of things, but the area of the WTO agreement that most intrigues is that the actions and agreements made does not allow a single country to become a run-away opportunist in short term to the collapse of that same industry segment in another country. OK, so it is not capitalism as the USA has practiced like forever…but ‘someone’ agreed that we needed a seat at the WTO and were not pure isolationist about everything.
No point to make, but remember the cry on textiles about 3 years ago? Where the world woke up one morning and Chinese textiles had apparently doubled exports over-night? The USA cried foul of course because after all, China had agreed to a curb on total exports of textiles for a period of 5 years under one of the WTO ‘balance’ provisions. The newspapers were full of the cry of foul, and Washington was going to stuff the Chinese…but then you heard no more about it. Silly reason why…China replied that the export ‘surge’ started 5 years and 1 day after they signed the textile cap! America had apparently forgotten to read the fine print! America through WTO had apparently been asleep at the wheel in year 3 and 4 and failed to ‘lobby’ for some additional give-n-take within WTO BEFORE the cap expired. What was left of American textile shrunk even further, more were unemployed and someone made sure the media blamed the Chinese! Sure the Chinese sell a lot of crap…but at the same time China also had the ability to make pure Egyptian type fine count textiles by the time the 5 years was up!
We can continue to cry foul…we can cry for higher import duty through State department channels…but the barn door was left open for that 5 years with no internal adjustments made by and on behalf of the government. THAT is the pity of it all! On the textiles we had 5 years notice in a sense, stood back and did nothing with our own infrastructure for that 5 years, then tried to be a bully and blame China for not reminding USA that the 5 year cap was coming due!
Forget that my story relates to China. WE joined WTO. Probably because in a League of Nations sort of way we were going to be the caboose set adrift if we didn’t. WE had lost the ability to speak softly and carry a big stick when it came to global commerce. So we go in, we agree to things, then try to use wiggle words to still do what we want when we want…and then when the WTO council replies ‘Nope’ we want to cry foul because we do not get our way? Could lead to scary stuff!
We can either belong or not…if not we do things our way in the global market place and then live in the world of pure capitalism where WTO countries say ‘sorry no exchange commerce on that item’. OR, we stay in WTO and lobby our butts off for American interests in these big areas of global balance of needs over the LONG term. We simply can’t have it both ways as we are apparently coming to learn as a nation.
If I had interest in cattle/beef, I’d heed Ted cry for action. Not to try and tell WTO they are wrong and a USA ‘law’ trumps any WTO agreement previously signed by USA or agreed to by USA when we joined WTO because that will be like peeing into the wind and just get folks all riled up to become fodder…but rather what the gang in DC needs to do to make sure that USA ‘beef’ still meets those rules and remains globally competitive or better said, domestically favorable at the same time.
We at least do not need to worry for now about China exporting beef. Their domesticated beef is horribly chewy, lacks flavor and has a hint of a liver taste and I don't know why but they don't seem to import USA beef. But a whole lot of cows from Australia which actually taste pretty good are finding their way to the frozen meat sections in even 2nd tier Chinese grocery market chains at higher prices per pound than what I pay here in USA.
Welcome to 21st century.