Breakdown of COOL rules

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- After a decade of dialogue and controversy, country-of-origin labeling finally is in full force. Economists and policy experts can hypothesize about the long-term effects on the livestock business and livestock prices, but what ...

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- After a decade of dialogue and controversy, country-of-origin labeling finally is in full force. Economists and policy experts can hypothesize about the long-term effects on the livestock business and livestock prices, but what are the implications for you and your livestock operation?

For many years, voluntary COOL regulations have been in place for beef, lamb, pork and perishable agriculture commodities and peanuts. Recently, the 2008 farm bill amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 once more by finally making COOL mandatory.

The 2008 provisions added chicken, goat, ginseng, pecans and macadamia nuts to the list of "covered commodities" under COOL. The interim final rule and request for final public comments were published by the USDA in the Federal Register Sept. 30.

Put simply, excluded from COOL are "processed foods" and "mixed foods." For example, raw pork chops will be labeled, but not ham or bacon. Also, COOL is applicable at the retail level only -- not the food service industry or butcher shops. In other words, the menus at your favorite steak restaurant or local tavern are not required to implement COOL. Even so, the hope is that U.S. livestock producers will be able to reap the rewards of this county's reputation with safety and quality.

Only time will tell what the long-term effects of COOL will be on the livestock business, especially at the production level. It is critical that farmers and ranchers implement an economical yet thorough record-keeping system in their production program. Some states have implemented additional regulations such as specific tag or branding requirements or health provisions. To ensure compliance with both federal and state law, you should contact your Department of Agriculture, state affiliate livestock groups or visit for full program details.


-- Cari Rincker

Editor's Note: Rincker is an associate attorney with Budd-Falen Law Offices L.L.C. in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Where is ethanol headed?

WILMOT, S.D. -- A recent Glacial Lakes Energy L.L.C. meeting was devoted to discussing symptoms of a problem that was not clearly defined. The closest any statement on any slide came to discussing the real problem was the misleading statement, "Ethanol prices are expected to increase." I would guess the same "experts" who structured our disastrous hedge policy or so-called risk management plan inserted that statement. The reality is no banker, board member or expert has a clue what the spot price of ethanol will be tomorrow much less a week from tomorrow. We have hit the E10 blend wall and, without a huge new higher-blends market for legacy vehicles, the ethanol industry forever will be a price taker rather than a price maker.

Expect more cash calls unless we ask Watertown, S.D., mayor Paul Fox to lead by putting city vehicles on E30 or a higher blend. Importantly, we must work with him to challenge other mayors and South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds to do the same. With Watertown's leadership on blender pumps, Minnesota and other states will follow.

It is important to note because of Watertown's higher blends leadership and experiences the department of energy recently has researched and confirmed that higher blends work great in so-called nonflex-fuel autos. Also, expect the new administration to ask auto officials who are under oath and wanting a bail out, "Since flex and nonflex engines are exactly the same in standard autos and onboard computers adjust to blends up to E40, can you legitimately void a standard auto owner's warrantee for use of such blends?" In other words, are standard autos already under warrantee for higher blends?

We can plan a bright future for our ethanol industry only when we accept our responsibility to develop a huge competing higher-blends market supporting owners of legacy vehicles.

-- Orrie Swayze


Editor's Note: Swayze farms in Wilmot, S.D.

Prepare for food crisis

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine government must pay attention to the warnings made by Dr. He Changchui, assistant director general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

Changchui says that the economic meltdown now afflicting the globe is gripping mankind with "the twin crises of finance and food."

The world, he warns, will be "far worse" than during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Black October of 1987 or the Asian Economic Collapse of 1997.

That is because the financial crisis is accompanied by "high food prices and food shortages, and the steady erosion of agriculture and rural economies."

"Food availability and affordability are the bedrocks of any society," he says. "During the Great Depression, Black October and the Asian Economic Crisis, food prices were at historic lows. No matter how dire the situation, food was still plentiful and cheap. Today, the story is different."

The department of agriculture and the various agencies of the government, as well as the private sector, must do everything they can to restore our farming sector to the high productive level it used to enjoy during the Marcos years. We already are exporting some corn. We also should become rice exporters. But that should mean, first of all, that all Filipinos are having their rice, vegetable and fruit-product needs fulfilled.


-- Manila (Philippines) Times

EU violating trade agreement

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. -- The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is welcoming the report by the World Trade Organization appellate body regarding the European Union's unwarranted ban on beef treated with growth hormones.

This report validates the additional duties the United States imposes on certain EU products to balance the trade disparity caused by the EU ban on hormone-treated beef. The ban, which has been in place for more than 20 years, is scientifically unjustified and fails to satisfy the requirements of the WTO agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The EU claims that amendments made to the ban in 2003 bring them into compliance with WTO trade requirements. However, the ban continues to prohibit beef treated with hormones, pending the availability of further scientific evidence.

In fact, numerous U.S. and international scientific studies have shown that the U.S. cattle industry produces safe and wholesome beef. The growth promotants used in cattle production are vigorously tested by the Food and Drug Administration for safety -- both for the animals' well-being and for the trace amounts that may be in meat consumed by humans. The hormones, many of which occur naturally in other foods, have all been proven safe.

Growth-promoting hormones help stimulate growth by increasing the efficiency in which feed is converted to muscle. Certain products, when administered to animals in very small amounts, supplement cattle's natural hormone production and improve growth rates by allowing the animal to produce more muscle and less fat. This helps the industry produce leaner beef for consumers.

The EU is an important market for U.S. beef products, having rapidly emerged as one of the world's largest net beef importing countries in recent years after being a net exporter earlier this decade. Despite this unscientific trade restriction, the EU will be a key market for in 2008 with U.S. beef exports projected to exceed $100 million.

The cattle producers of NCBA are committed to producing high-quality, safe and healthy beef. Consumers the world over can be confident about purchasing and consuming American beef products. NCBA appreciates the WTO appellate body's recognition that trade must be based on internationally accepted, science-based standards.


-- Andy Groseta

Editor's Note: Groseta is a rancher from Cottonwood, Ariz., and president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

What To Read Next
Get Local