Industry Reaction Divided on Spending Bill


Industry reaction to the spending bill appears sharply divided on two main issues:  Country of Origin Labeling and the creation a second beef checkoff.  Northern Ag Network is posting both press releases from the opposing views. 

In Favor:

National Cattlemen’s Beef Organization 

“We were very happy to see a number of issues that have affected our producers addressed in this legislation,” said McCan. “It is clear that Congress recognizes and agrees that the Administration’s regulatory zeal has gone too far and if left unchecked, it will impede the economic growth of rural America.” 

Key for cattlemen and women, the report language for the USDA contained a provision instructing the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report with his recommendations for any changes in the Federal law required to bring the Country of Origin Labeling program into compliance with our international trade obligations. This report would need to be submitted within 15 days of the appeal decision from the WTO or by May 1, 2015, whichever comes first.

“The WTO ruling on the COOL rule was very clear that this provision discriminates against our largest trading partners,” said McCan. “Moreover, this failed legislation has cost U.S. cattle producers in the form of lost revenue and added costs for labeling, all for a program that has not shown benefits to consumers or greater consumption of beef. It is time to fix COOL before our economy is damaged by retaliatory tariffs or our trade relationships are permanently damaged. Failure to abide by our trade obligations sends a signal to our current and future trade partners that they too can pick and choose what provisions to abide by.”
The report also directs the Secretary of Agriculture, not to implement a duplicative beef checkoff.

“The Beef Checkoff Program is the most effective tool for cattle producers to invest in research, education and promotion of our product,” said McCan. “With 78 percent support by cattle producers and an $11.20 return on every dollar invested, the Beef Checkoff has been an immense success. Congress has made it clear that they support cattlemen and women and oppose a government-run, duplicative beef checkoff under the 1996 Generic Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act.”

CLICK HERE to read the full press release.


National Farmers Union and United States Cattlemen’s Association:

“NFU and USCA are very concerned that the report language included on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) could be used as an opportunity to stop the appeals process at the World Trade Organization or re-open the legislation that mandated COOL, both of which are unacceptable,” notes the letter. “Congress should not intervene in the WTO process.”

Formally known as Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, the bills are being considered before both the House and the Senate this week. The joint letter points out that also hid inside the Act is a provision that orders the Secretary of Agriculture to refrain from implementing a reformed beef checkoff program, with the irony that the closing period on public comments for the beef checkoff is today. 

“National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is so fearful of losing its $40 million-plus revenue stream through the beef checkoff that it has lobbied for this language to be included in the report rather than allowing producers the ability to have their comments recognized and addressed through the commenting process. NCBA has lobbied Congress on a mandatory producer checkoff program that they control,” notes the letter. 

“We strongly object to the use of the appropriations process as a mechanism to limit the secretary’s authority to uphold the COOL law, to respond to the dire need for reform of the beef checkoff, and to address anti-competitive market concerns.” 

CLICK HERE to read the full press release.

Sources:  National Cattlemen’s Beef Organization, National Farmers Union

Posted by Jami Howell

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