A response to "No cow left behind" by Ken Root
High Plains Journal Article 1-24-09
For someone who writes about their own wisdom, you must only read what you write. Do you work full-time for NCBA or USDA? I couldn't tell. Did you ever feed a cow or calf? Are you sure where the feed goes in and the manure comes out? USDA and your mentioned association have fought and attempted to screw up COOL from day one and when they saw it was supported, now they want credit for it. As one of the three representatives for R-CALF USA and as their COOL Committee Chairman, I was in Kansas City August 26, 2008 for the Livestock Marketing Association's industry meeting with over 60 organizations representatives. Only then--when USDA stepped out of the room--did we try to fix what USDA and some so-called "cattle associations" tried to break. We managed to rework in six hours what they (USDA) messed with for over 6 years. They just couldn't get it right. They certainly tried to sidestep the goal of producers and consumers while working as puppets for the packers by not putting an end to the question on the multiple label concern, visual inspections, simplified affidavits and records for all USA producers.
You must be the only person who has never seen the support for COOL. If you want surveys ("Valid ones with a 40% response") showing the support for Country of Origin Labeling I can provide them to you. Why is it wrong to promote our product in the United States of America to our consumers here? We have the best consuming market in the world for beef. Our consumers' incomes--by a wide margin--is better than over 80% of the rest of the worlds' population outside the USA.
Furthermore, you evidently haven't heard or watched the Beef Checkoff and what they haven't done for producers in the USA. How many millions of dollars since the inception of it have they collected? Why shouldn't we vote "yearly" on what to do for change, or for promotion advertising for USA BEEF in the USA? Why don't we open up the seats on the beef boards and allow room for new ideas? Why don't we break up the "Shared Staff Program" with organizations that do not represent anyone's best interest? Why are they not a standalone business with their own independent building or office? I am sure you think the new two, or even three-dollar checkoff proposal would be beneficial. It will, but it will be to the benefit of the packing industry. If we continue to just advertise beef which has--and continues to be imported and sold under the guise of the USDA "inspection" label. We will never see change, or food safety addressing imported practices or a choice for our consumers.
Now for some facts. The beef industry needs changes, but more importantly--it needs competition. I hope to be a part of that change. Your article to me, tried to bash some very good cattlemen who live and work in rural areas of this country. Me and the ones I know support local businesses, schools, churches and our communities. We are good stewards of the land and always try to be caring of others. All we have asked for was an opportunity to promote our product here in the USA and let the importers do the same. This just gives consumers a choice, and through education and some media, it would be nice for consumers to have the right to know "where their beef comes from." It is about food safety. Did you not read about the problem recently with Clenbuterol? The Ministry of Health Jalisco (SSJ) has reported 9 confirmed cases of poisoning by clenbuterol in the city of Zapotlanejo, and there are still 5 more [likely] to be confirmed. The outbreak occurred on Monday [12 Jan 2009], and the affected people were taken to a hospital in Guadalajara. I see a scary amount of these articles. Here's an suggestion for you: look up "Tuberculosis outbreaks in the USA" and where it originates from.
As for NAIS, if the borders were protected why do we need it? Add NAIS to your newly proposed National Bio Defense lab in Manhattan. It will be setting near a very serious Earthquake fault line called the Humboldt Fault Zone—a fault zone that has the potential to produce earthquakes in the 6 to 6.5 range. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tuttle Creek is preparing and catastrophe could strike. Being twelve miles east of the dam the Humboldt Fault Zone, a series of north-south fault lines that run from Oklahoma City to Omaha, Nebraska. This $150 million project with Tuttle Creek is all the proof you need that earthquakes are a real threat in Kansas. I don't know, but is or was common sense ever prevalent in the government?
Finally, you have been disregarding comments on how well exporting has been for "USA producers" and even Creekstone (who fought the government to test for BSE). Imports are up about 25% from a year ago--and look at our prices now! I, like others, contend that "beef packers capture all benefits from exports and use imports to depress price." I haven't found a cowboy yet who ever received a check from Japan or China for the exported beef the packers sold them. If you have a copy of one, I would like to see it! I have seen the proof that they take full advantage of our markets by the use of imports.
To finish off this, let's talk beef and live cattle imports, exports, numbers and dollars. In 2007, according to USDA ERS we had about one billion pounds of live cattle and beef exports with about five billion pounds coming here as imports. Who does this help? The USDA ERS reported that we had about a two billion dollar export total in trade and we IMPORTED about five BILLION dollars--can you add? How good is that for anyone but a packer? I have not seen the market respond in a very positive fashion, so I don't see how importing or exporting beef is to good for me or other USA independent cattle producers. I almost forgot about JBS the cattle and meat packer from Brazil, have you looked at how many cows are in Brazil? Pay attention.
Working to protect the USA producer,
Proud member of KCA and R-CALF