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Agricultural News

OCA Urges Congress to Fix COOL and WOTUS Before It's Too Late

Tue, 07 Jul 2015 15:10:24 CDT

OCA Urges Congress to Fix COOL and WOTUS Before It's Too Late Time is running out for Congress to act on Country-of-Origin Labeling before retaliation kicks in from Mexico and Canada. In June, the House of Representatives voted 300-131 in favor of removing the labels off meat products sold in the United States. Now the legislation waits for action by the U.S. Senate. Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said the U.S. is up against a brick wall and it's time to fix this problem and repeal COOL.

"Two of our largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico, have been determined in the WTO realm that they have standing in order to retaliate," Kelsey said. "Both of them have made it very clear, especially Canada that beef would be high on the list in terms of retaliation. Some of the figures I have heard from some of my Canadian friends are that they're pushing for 100 percent tariff, basically doubling the cost of U.S. beef, if you will, into Canada and that would be a detrimental effect on our markets. We need a fix."

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow has proposed a voluntary COOL program. Kelsey agrees that consumers want to know more about their food products and he welcomes the concept, but the U.S. needs to worry about the immediate concerns with Canada and Mexico.

Another major challenge will be "Waters of the United States" final rule that goes into effect in August. Several Attorney Generals and national agricultural organizations have filed lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps over the overreach and constitutionality of the rule. Kelsey said having this rule tied up in litigation is the best way to stop this rule and fortunately agriculture is not the only industry effected, so the lawsuits are gaining support from construction, manufacturing, mining, petroleum and forestry industries. He also anticipates that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will also file a lawsuit against EPA and the Army Corps. In the meantime, he said OCA will continue to push for a congressional fix by urging Congress to repeal the rule or by defunding the measure through the Appropriations process.

Oklahoma's agricultural groups are also starting their planning and preparations for the 'Right to Farm' initiative that will on the ballot in November 2016 to be voted on by Oklahomans. Kelsey said the effort is starting to build some positive momentum with planning, fundraising and creating awareness for the initiative.

"We're all in this together," Kelsey said. "Oklahoma agriculture has a great benefit from this and we want to continue to position Oklahoma agriculture positively in the future and we think this is one great step to do that."

Coming up this month is the 63rd Annual OCA Convention and Trade Show in Midwest City. The conference will take place at the Reed Center July 23, 24 & 25, 2015. In coordination with the OCA, the Oklahoma Junior Cattlemen's Association and the Oklahoma CattleWomen's Association hold their annual conventions. The three-day event also features informative speakers, a large trade show, educational opportunities and a banquet to recognize outstanding members and their accomplishments. Kelsey said conference will cover state and national policy issues, along with the discussion on forming a state beef checkoff and educational opportunities through Cattlemen's College focused on soil health, forage quality and many other topics. Kelsey said this year's convention will be centered on honoring OCA President Richard Gebhart who recently passed away.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays recently caught up with Michael Kelsey. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.

Michael Kelsey will be joining me for the weekly "In the Field" report on KWTV News 9 in the Oklahoma City market on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.

Ron Hays interviews Michael Kelsey of OCA
right-click to download mp3


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