Beef Buzz News
NCBA's Ethan Lane Believes mCOOL is Old News
Mon, 13 Sep 2021 11:15:33 CDT
Several members of the U.S. Senate are pushing to reinstate mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling (mCOOL) in hopes of helping U.S. cattle producers be more profitable. Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), told Ron Hays, mCOOL is not going to solve any problems, going as far as calling it a failure.
“We see something like this in every congress,” Lane said. “It is simply not the solution to the problems we are facing in the supply chain today.”
When mCOOL was introduced in the 2012 Farm Bill, it violated international trade laws and led to legal action from Canada and Mexico who stated that mCOOL, “accords imported Mexican and Canadian livestock treatment less favorable than that accorded to like domestic livestock …”
“It was a failure,” Lane said. “It did not provide producers with additional profit on their cattle.”
Some folks in the cattle industry believe that mCOOL is a solution to a lot of problems in the beef industry, Lane said he believes there is not much more to talk about within the mCOOL conversation.
“That conversation has moved on,” Lane said. “We are focused on Product of the U.S. labeling and ensuring there is a solid footing for producers to voluntarily put labels on beef that differentiate their product in the marketplace, resulting in making more money in that transaction.”
Lane said mCOOL did not satisfy those needs last time and it will not this time.
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is conducting a review on Product of the U.S. labeling, Lane said. He said he can predict the review will reveal that the current labeling structure, which has been in place for the past 30 years, allows liberties to be taken with Product of U.S.A. labels.
“I can save everybody a lot of time and effort - the current structure quite literally allows anybody to place a Product of the U.S.A. label on just about anything coming down the supply chain if it passes through a USDA FSIS inspected facility.”
According to Lane, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) label is not intended to convey the origin of the product. Instead, it is intended to convey processing of the product, he added.
“(The current Product of the U.S.) is just an outdated label that needs to be, at the least, reformed and at best, done away with in favor of more specific labels,” Lane said.
The NCBA’s supports voluntary labels with source-verified origin only, Lane said. He added that if someone wants to put an origin label on a product, it needs to be source verified.
Until the current labeling system is fixed, current programs that serve the purpose Lane is advocating for will not be utilized because of a lack of incentive.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Ethan Lane as they talk about beef labeling.
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