|April 23, 2003|
When God wrote His law, the Commandments, did He ask Pharaoh to write the rules?
Goodland, Kansas – Chandler Keys, NCBA’s vice president of Government Affairs, was in Goodland, Kansas last night at a Kansas Livestock Association meeting discussing a variety of issues including country of origin labeling (COOL). Keys said, “It doesn’t matter what we think about COOL, USDA is going to write the rules and USDA is going to ask market participants what they want.” He continued, “It is a retail labeling law. The retailer will tell the packer, and the packer will tell the feeder, and on down the line to the cow-calf producer, what they want in the way of an audit trail.” Keys criticized COOL supporters for being “rash” and too hasty (and of course for not asking NCBA), resulting in what he said was a poorly written piece of legislation.
NCBA is straddling razor wire trying to represent both cattlemen and their allied industry, which includes the packers and retailers. They know COOL, a consumer-right-to-know law, is one of the most popular laws ever passed by Congress. If NCBA can’t defeat the legislation that threatens the unfair profits of their packer and retailer bosses, they must try to reverse the intent of the law through rule making, or make the law so onerous that those who wanted it would cry for its repeal.
Keys acknowledged that all foreign beef and cattle that cross the U.S. borders are clearly labeled, marked, and segregated under current law. He struggled a bit when the suggestion was made that we not worry about U.S. cattle – just track the foreign cattle and beef on through to retail, similar to the “domestic only” system required currently for government purchases – and everything else is U.S. by default?
If packers and retailers are going to write the rules, producers and consumers who passed the legislation to label meat, fruits, vegetables, and peanuts will see a far different result than the legislation intended. Packers and retailers intend to teach producers a lesson they won’t soon forget with a reversal of COOL’s legislative intent. They know a win on COOL will empower producers and consumers with hope for even more progress in restoring fairness in the marketplace.
Packers and retailers are pushing third-party verification and farm of origin labeling, as opposed to country of origin labeling, with a complete audit trail. Does that mean beef imported from Argentina will be traced back to their farms, the cow and bull from which it was raised, and will an honest “third party”, maybe someone like George Soros (Engler/Cactus/Soros of Argentina), verify that the producer isn’t lying?
Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) is a recent example of a law’s intent being reversed in rulemaking. Keys, who was present with the packers and USDA during MPR’s rulemaking, and who many believe facilitated MPR’s demise said, “Politics is about compromise. You have to give and take. You should be thankful for what you have.”
Since Chandler Keys came on the NCBA scene eighteen years ago, cattlemen have given up too much with the “go along to get along” philosophy. Loss of competitive markets have cost cattlemen and their communities between $300 to $400 per head of their share of the consumer beef dollar – Cash that is now in the pockets of the packers and retailers. Consumers have never paid more for beef and producers have never received less of what the consumer spends.
In trying to promote the NCBA’s prestige and high position of power in Washington D.C. politics, through its network of “connections” in the various USDA government agencies, Keys exposed a serious problem for producers: USDA is NCBA, USDA is the packers and retailers, USDA has become subservient to the industry it is charged with regulating. Through the revolving door of industry to USDA and back again, plus the direct money and political muscle of big meat packers, processors, and retailers, USDA is positioned to kill, through their rulemaking, new legislation that threatens the profits of their packer retailer bosses.
Cattlemen, in an effort to be diplomatic, respectful, and in the interest of preserving a business relationship with the packer they must sell their livestock to, have for the most part avoided direct confrontation. They haven’t related to Congress the fact that the packers and retailers believe they are above the law, like gangsters, thugs, and thieves they pillage the countryside with impunity. Perhaps Congress could do a better job of protecting our economic system if this fact were made more clear. Packers, processors, and retailers are to today’s farmers and ranchers what Pharaoh was to the slaves in his mud pits.
Packers and retailers should not write the rules for the laws that regulate them, free people should.
Stay Informed!Subscribe to information and news updates related to farming, food and health issues, click here!
Follow me on TwitterMy Tweets
- This Cattleman's Got A Beef
Photo: Sean Cayton - 2003People producing good food from happy animals, while improving the environment, shouldn’t have to fear the government.
Photo above featured in a 2003 article: This cattleman's got a beef, Mike Callicrate and Ranch Foods Direct take on the big meat packers by Kathryn Eastburn
- BIG Food Exposed
- Great Ranches of the West
Purchase Great Ranches of the West for only $34.95 and $20 will go to an Organization or Project of your choice!
"An eye opening and heart touching portrait of a culture and industry that we are in great danger of losing. This book will help readers understand the urgency of preserving the Western ranchlands inhabited by families and rural communities that provide nourishing food for our nation, preserve a healthy natural environment and entrust that great American values will endure."
- Mike Callicrate
An Endangered Species
Every month 1,000 ranches go out of production. It's the national security issue that no one is talking about.
Food Policy & LawE. Coli Confessions Part I
by John Munsell | Oct 11, 2011
Editor's Note: This is the first part in a series written by John Munsell of Miles City, MT, who explains how the small meat plant his family owned for 59 years ran afoul of USDA's meat inspection program. The events he writes about began a decade ago, but remain relevant today.
They say that confession is good for the soul. I've been involved in a series of ugly events since my plant in 2002 recalled 270 pounds of ground beef contaminated with E.coli O157:H7 and now want to admit the embarrassing truth for public review. more
- advanced meat recovery
- beef checkoff
- Big Food
- Callicrate Beef
- Callicrate Cattle Co.
- Colorado Springs
- Dudley Butler
- e. coli
- Eric Schlosser
- fast food nation
- food Inc.
- Industrial Agriculture
- meat packers
- Mike Callicrate
- Organization for Competitive Markets
- pink slime
- Ranch Foods Direct
- Rick Hughes
- Tom Vilsack
- U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance
- Vandana Shiva
Top Posts & Pages
- Catholic Rural Life: Eating is a Moral Act
- 9 Disappointing Facts About Chipotle
- Beef's Reputation On Sale - Price Shoppers Beware!
- Big packers are gangsters, thugs and thieves
- SOIL Initiative
- In fight against food waste, FoodMaven could do more harm than good
- Pink Slime: Dark Side of Industrial Food System Exposed
- Vicious Circles - Big meat packers continue to suck the blood out of cattle industry
- Deskilling on the Disassembly Line: Technological Change and Its Consequences in Beef-Packing Since the 1960s
- Recommended Reading
National News Supplement