What's Good for the Goose is Not Necessarily Good for the Gander-RCALF's Bill Bullard on MandatesThu, 25 Oct 2018 10:33:56 CDT
In a wide-ranging interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, the CEO of the R-CALF organization, Bill Bullard, talked about a couple of different issues that have been discussed within the beef cattle industry in recent years. He explained his organization’s policy on those issues and the viewpoint its members are coming from. One of those issues that Bullard has been very vocal about is of course his belief that a mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) law should be implemented, which would identify domestic beef in grocery stores as being Made in the USA.
“In 2002, Congress passed the COOL law in response to the growing tide of imported food products coming into the US. Congress recognized that US producers could not compete with this substitute product in the marketplace unless they could distinguish their own product,” he said. “Well, the fact is, meat packers are buying the imported products - the same meat packers that are buying our cattle - and it’s to their benefit not to distinguish the product because they can source it cheaper and sell it for the same price as a US product. Their margins are increased.”
Bullard says he recognizes that to distinguish Made in the USA products is against the financial interest of packers and therefor understands why they would not want to take it upon themselves to label products. But, in the interest of the cow/calf producer, who has no control of what the packers do with their cattle after they have been purchased, says he is appealing to Congress to mandate packers to adopt this practice in order to give producers a leg up in the market. While he says R-CALF members support this measure, the conversely do not support a mandatory animal identification traceability program. He says this forces producers to relinquish valuable information to packers with no benefit to them. In his mind, if a packer wants that information, they should have to pay the producer for it. He says there is already programs like this where packers are paying premiums for cattle that come with background information on the animal’s origins and how it was raised. But he says a mandated program cuts the producer out of any potential profits from this value-added service.
“Once there is a government mandate either through the corporations who control the marketplace or by the government, those premiums evaporate and producers lose,” Bullard said. “If there are packers who are selling beef that they want this additional valuable information - we want the packers to have to pay a premium for those cattle. If the retailers want specific standards they should communicate that to the producers and in our free market system of cattle production - we will have entrepreneurs that will step forward and take full advantage of that. But again, that will all go away under a mandatory program.”
Listen to Bullard explain his position further on these topics, on today’s Beef Buzz, or click here to listen to his full conversation with Hays for more.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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