okPORK's Roy Lee Lindsey Exposes the Hypocrisy of Mandatory Country of Origin LabelingMon, 30 Sep 2019 18:15:07 CDT
Executive Director of the Oklahoma Pork Council Roy Lee Lindsey testified at a recent interim study hearing conducted by the Oklahoma House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Dell Kerbs, regarding his position on proposed legislation that would institute a mandatory labeling system for meat products, specifically beef, produced in Oklahoma. Lindsey offered his perspective on this concept from a pork industry standpoint, suggesting such a system would have only negative impacts on the industry he represents as well as the other protein industries which he works alongside.
“Over the last six or eight years, we’ve seen legislation introduced almost every session to require some form of ‘Country of Origin Labelling’ on meat, protein, beef, pork or poultry here in the state,” Lindsey remarked in an interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays. “Inevitably, we end up going around in circles explaining to legislators why this is bad for the industry and how it doesn’t return value and all the reasons it doesn’t work.”
During his testimony, Lindsey presented the legislation from a historical perspective, exploring the original law that was implemented as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. According to Lindsey, after the then called, “MCOOL,” was implemented, both Mexico and Canada appealed to the World Trade Organization (WTO) arguing that MCOOL was in direct violation to the North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA). The WTO agreed with the plaintiffs four separate times and eventually ruled that they could legally retaliate against the US for discriminating against foreign products. Mexico and Canada did just that, imposing roughly $1.2 billion in tariffs on the US. Lindsey explained that Congress repealed MCOOL the following day.
Lindsey says that the proponents of COOL believe the system will promote greater demand for domestic product and thus elevate prices. However, he retorts that the policy actually causes the exact opposite effect.
“If that were the case and we really believed the consumer will pay extra for a product labelled ‘Product of the USA,’ wouldn’t we already be doing it voluntarily?” he said, pointing out existing branded lines that have proven successful like Certified Angus Beef and other products. “We do that already where we think there’s value. There’s nothing that prohibits us from doing a voluntary label, so if there were value in doing it voluntarily why wouldn’t I want to do it and capture all that value myself instead of forcing the label on every product? Then, you’re not differentiating yourself from anybody else’s product.”
Lindsey adds that the argument for COOL is flawed, remarking that in order to be successful at it, there would have to be a traceability component in it. However, Lindsey says those in favor of COOL are also adamantly opposed to traceability.
Listen to Lindsey’s full exchange with Hays over this topic, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
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