The Official End to Country Of Origin Labels
Source 12/18/2015 : Spending Bill Eliminates Rule for Labels Specifying Meat’s Country of Origin
When people think of safe food, we very often think of the U.S. A. as one of the elite places for safe food and water. The reason for this praise has been due to hard-fought regulations and inspections that have developed over the years. The same can be said of the ‘Country Of Origin Labels’ (C.O.O.L.), a law passed declaring that meat had to be labelled as to where it came from. 90% of people approve of COOL (Reference 1). The fact that the COOL law is being repealed is considered one of the most outrageous acts ever (and there are many). Here is a law that had protected our food and made the companies that process food more responsible in bringing food to America. So why repeal it? Who would do such a dastardly deal? That is the reason for this article. But first we have to accurately define what exactly is COOL and its history. And the we will go into the reasons why the enemies of the law wanted it repealed.
What is C.O.O.L?
The Country of Origin Labels (COOL) was originally written in 2008 under consumer pressure who wanted safer food and asked for more transparency in how its food is being handled. The result was COOL. A common sense label to protect the public. (Reference 2)
This law required meat to be labelled, the end product was simple: “Product Made in USA” or Product of such and such country. But, this rule was repealed when the World Trade Organization – the organization which is in charge of decisions that can influence “Free Trade”, rendered their decision, saying it was discriminatory to other countries. This was on July 23 2012. It was an unfathomable decision. So, the rules were re-written by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most meat processors continued to label “made in USA” if it was made in the USA while the law was re-written.
COOL was revised in 2013 and it now reads: “muscle cut meats require labels to specify in sequence, the country where a source animal was born, the country where it was raised, and the country where it was slaughtered.” It is a simple rule and everybody was happy. Or were they?
The Implementation of Revised COOL
The new labeling requirement of COOL went into effect on May 23, 2013. Yea! But there were two lawsuits lawsuit filed in July, 2013, (References 3 & 4) only two months after the law was implemented. Somebody really had to HATE this law. But who? The WTO? No, the WTO can only render a decision about a lawsuit, but they can not initiate a lawsuit (not in its own name anyway). So, then, who is this public enemy who is against safe food?
The Giant Institute Who Doesn’t Want You to Have Safer Meat.
The group that filed the lawsuit, within two months when COOL was implemented, was The American Meat Institute (AMI). The American Meat Institute is a group of the largest meat producers in the United States. AMI represents 95% of all red meat and 70% of all turkey processing. On the (N)AMI Board of Directors (Ref.5) is Hormel; Tyson Chicken, which has processing plants in China, India, Brazil and, (there it is), Mexico (Ref. 6); Cargill Meats; Butterball; JBS; Costco; Omaha Steaks; Harris Ranch; and Smithfield Foods who has just been bought by a Chinese company, plus many others.
So How Does COOL Hurt an American Company?
I mean this is the trick isn’t it, if you are going to file a lawsuit, you have to demonstrate that you are being injured or hampered in some unfair way. So, how does an American Meat Processor say that they are being hurt? Well, they really can’t. But, if you have some brainy million dollar lawyers they can usually figure out something. And they did. They filed two lawsuits, but, in this second lawsuit, AMI used a couple of their peripheral companies, out on the borders of Mexico and Canada (but still within their affiliations) and then named them as the Plaintiffs using the same AMI lawyers. Boo, hiss, stinks to high heaven. That is correct, the American Meat Institute filed the lawsuit to repeal COOL as Canadian and Mexican producers that are being injured.
Of course, one can make the case that Canada has a higher standard than America both in raising cattle and poultry and in processing meat. So, how would labeling meat as “Made in Canada” be injurious to meat from Canada? It wouldn’t. It would be like requiring shoes that are made in Italy to say “Made in Italy” in big letters. But that was the basis of the lawsuit.
The Fake Plaintiffs In an Effort To Repeal COOL
As we know – the American Meat Institute is the main plaintiff trying to repeal the Country of Origin Labels (COOL) (References 3 & 4). But, in order to go through the side door and file as “foreign” interests (Mexico and Canada), AMI found some subsidiaries who fulfilled this criteria. For those of you who don’t care about these details, please fast forward to the next section.
Fake Plaintiff #1 BK Pork is a member of the National Pork Producers Council Iowa affiliate and a close ally of (N)AMI. According to the lawsuit, BK Pork would have to stop raising Canadian pigs in their home state of Iowa.(Reference 3, page 42) This argument falls apart quickly. First, Iowa is nowhere close to Canada. Supposedly BK Pork imports cows all the way from Canada. How does this agreement make any financial sense to do this, and why would “Made in Canada”hurt them?
Fake Plaintiff #2 is Alpha 3 Cattle Company. Alpha 3 Cattle Co is a member of the National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) -the plaintiff and close friend of (N)AMI. It is a feedyard in Texas that imports 38,000 head of Mexican cattle per year. This is NAMI’s only connection with Mexico (that is not Tyson), that is the sole reason why they are included in the lawsuit. (Reference 3, page 41-42) They are extremely small potatoes, and there are not many American companies that import Mexican cattle. If we dig deeper, we could probably find the reason why this company really exists.
Fake Plaintiff #3 is Agri-beef. This is a ranch in Idaho and that processes its beef in Washington. It is a member of the North American Meat Association (NAMA). (Since the lawsuit was initiated, NAMA has become part of (N)AMI.) In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue: “Because Washington is a ‘cattle-deficient’ state, Agri-Beef relies heavily on cattle imported from Canada during particular times of the year.”(Reference 3, page 40-41) Wait a minute, the ranch is in Idaho, which is not cattle deficient, and it is not raised in Washington. I am sure this company could get a waiver from the USDA for having their cattle graze in the US for a month. Like I said previously, raised in Canada is “thumbs up” – there is absolutely no downside in labeling it that way.
Overall, the whole lawsuit is laughable but money and special connections can take a lawsuit a long way.
The Courts and The Lawsuit to Repeal COOL
The first court to hear the American Meat Institute to Repeal the Country of Origin Labels was heard at the District Court in Washington, DC. This suit was defeated on March 28, 2014 (Ref. 7) Yea!
However, The World Trade Organization (WTO), the ones who overturned the first COOL Law in 2012, upheld the American Meat Institutes lawsuit on October 20, 2014. (Reference 8) The American Meat Institute then lobbied the U.S. Government not to appeal the lawsuit, but they did. No result yet, obviously the WTO can sit on legislation longer than the Supreme Court if it wants.
The Impact of the WTO Decision to Repeal COOL
People were outraged that a good law, COOL, was repealed. But there was a bigger issue that had not really been acknowledged. Here we have an American law for the American people and for the welfare of the American People. It law was upheld by the American courts. But this International Council (the World Trade Organization) says this American law had to be repealed. What authority do they have to repeal an American law? This just magnifies a previous argument of globalization and the Free Trade Agreements – These agreements do not allow for improving safety and quality for advanced countries, but makes all advanced countries “dumb down.” Other poor countries can not match your high standards, therefore you must lower your standards. Maybe you should start putting some E. Coli (bacteria) into your drinking water because it is too clean.
U.S. House of Representatives Move to Repeal COOL
Who cares if 90% of people approve of labeling of meat, let us repeal it. That is exactly what the House of Representatives did. On June 12, 2015 on a vote of 301 (234 Republicans with 66 Democrats) to 131, the House voted to repeal COOL (Reference 9). In criticising the decision: Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the House Ag Committee, was chairman when COOL was reworked in the 2008 farm bill to implement. Peterson criticized the bill for jumping the WTO process. Peterson also directly challenged Canada’s claim of $3 billion in economic losses, which Peterson called “ridiculous.” (For those of you interested the House has 247 GOP, 188 Democrats). So why does the GOP hate COOL, Several reasons – they are pawns to Big Ag (like (N)AMI), they are very libertarian – they don’t like any government regulation that is why they do not pass any laws, and they are very Pro Free Trade. So, if your food is not safe, tough.
Repeal of COOL Expected to Become Law
Obviously, if COOL had been a solitary bill, it would have been vetoed by the President. So, how do you get around the President? How about putting in the giant $1.15 Trillion spending bill? (Reference 10) That is what has happened. It is a smart part of a bill that includes provisions that give permanent tax breaks for the rich.
Big Ag is obviously for the repeal of COOL, but how about small farmers?
Some groups representing smaller U.S. ranchers and farmers, many of whom supported the labeling rule, decried the repeal provision.
“This is a rotten way to do legislation, by attaching these barnacles on the omnibus bills in the dark of the night,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, a Washington, D.C.-based organization. Big Ag trumps small farmers again and again and again.
Insignificant Name Change: AMI becomes NAMI
The American Meat Institute(AMI) changed its official name to The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) in the first half of 2015. Now they can say they represent all of North America when they really do not.
Why Big Ag Hates COOL So Much and has Spent millions of dollars to repeal it.
The American Meat Institute wanted to repeal the country of origin for reasons that are not all that obvious. The obvious one would be money, the Meat processors would have to keep better records on where their meat comes from and what parts are used in what product. Then they would have to label it. They already do this. The cost to do this would be about $0.0000001 per pound of meat. What about import taxes placed on American meat by mad Canadians and Mexicans. That is ridiculous, the whole lawsuit is by Americans, that is a true idle threat. So money is not the reason.
Now, the real reason for opposing the Country of Origin labels is actually very nefarious. We know that The North American Meat Institute objects to having to show what meat cuts are in what products – they have always dragged their feet on products like hot dogs, sausage and other blended meat products. But, the true future of meat – the meat processors want the freedom to take any type of meat and blend it all together, they want to take meats from other countries and blend it all together, and they want to start processing meat in other cheaper labor countries with less stringent inspection standards and use this processed meat to mix in with other meats without anybody knowing where any of the meat is from. That is the true goal. We are not so far away from “Soylent Green” are we?
- The Repeal of the Country of Origin Labels on Meats was not pursued by the governments or businesses of Mexico or Canada (as reported in non-researched newspaper articles) but by The (North)American Meat Institute that processes 95% of all red meat and 70% of turkey.
- COOL is a very popular American Law for the welfare of the American people upheld by American courts but it has been repealed by the World Trade Organization – an International Free Trade group which has no authority to repeal American laws.
- Free Trade Agreements have caused a decrease of standards of advanced countries in order to allow inferior countries to compete.
- The North American Meat Institute wants to mix meats from not only different parts of meats together, but also different meats together and meats from different countries with a future shift to have most meat processed in countries with less stringent regulations and inspections, like China.
- The G.O.P. are pawns of Big AG and in the dark of the night have slipped the law to repeal COOL into the giant end of year spending bill.
With The Repeal of COOL Comes the re-Introduction of Mystery Meat
So long COOL, I am going to miss knowing where my meat came from. I hate mystery meat. I am going to be quite angry when I find out it is coming from foreign sources. I recommend boycotting all meat processed by members of the North American Meat Institute.
- Food Survey 2014 – 90% of Americans agree with food labeling
- Country of Origin Labeling of chicken and Meat from the USDA website/Food Safety and Inspection Services.
- Lawsuit: American Meat Institute vs United States Department of Agriculture.
- Lawsuit: American Meat Institute and Eight Others vs USDA
- North American Meat Institute Board of Directors
- Tyson Portfolio
- The Hill: DC Circuit Court Rejects challenge of rule of origin of labeling on meats
- The Official Decision: World Trade Organization Rejects United States – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements. 10/20/2014 206 pages.
- US Representatives Repeal COOL
- Spending Bill Eliminates Rule for Labels Specifying Meat’s Country of Origin
- Say Good-Bye to ‘COOL’: Congress Repeals Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Rule 12/20/2015 another look at the repeal of COOL