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Agricultural News

Michael Kelsey Asks the Question- is mCOOL a Silver Bullet?

Wed, 06 Nov 2019 16:34:10 CST

Michael Kelsey Asks the Question- is mCOOL a Silver Bullet? The following is an Editorial entitled mCOOL- a Silver Bullet? as written by Michael Kelsey, the Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. It was published in the most recent issue of The Oklahoma Cowman, which is the official publication of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association.

"In the fantasy world, the only thing that can kill a werewolf is a silver bullet. While it is unclear if this reason is the origin of the phrase, we all know 'silver bullet' is used in reference to a clear and easy solution. Generally speaking though, there are few if any silver bullets. Within the beef industry, I have yet to find any!

"Lately however, I have heard from a few people the idea that mandatory Country of Origin Labeling is the solution to all that ails the cattle market. More than one person has called asking, "Does OCA support mandatory Country of Origin Labeling?" That is a good and fair question. In my 21 years of service to our industry in association work, I have not seen a more divisive issue than mCOOL. So in the spirit of unity, let's define what we agree on before we discuss what might be disagreement.

"No matter the opinion held on mCOOL, every, and I mean every, cattle producer that I have spoken with about this issue is very proud of their beef and their involvement in the United States beef industry. We all take great pride in producing the highest quality, best tasting, most nutritious animal protein product available on the market. We love our industry and we love that can enjoy it with our families while having a close Providential connection to the land and animals which we count as blessings.

"OCA membership based policy has long supported voluntary labeling programs that producers can participate in by choice to help add value to their cattle. Additionally, OCA policy has long been opposed to mandatory marketing programs. Mandated programs force producers into one-size-fits-all plans that almost always cost more than any value (if any exists) is recognized. Multiple peer reviewed and government sanctioned research projects have shown just this with mCOOL - more costs for producers (and consumers in some cases) with no recognized payback or value. I have not seen one peer reviewed research study that shows mCOOL cost producers nothing (or even very little) and paid increased dividends. On the other hand, voluntary marketing programs that highlight origin, quality or some other character value have been shown to provide additional revenue even though costs may increase. For example, if a producer wants to pursue a 'natural' beef program, there is increased costs associated with that pursuit but the revenue received can exceed those elevated inputs.

"Further, the idea of giving government some of the marketing reigns to our product is disturbing. If we want government to label country of origin, how long will it be before government will want to label beef for other characteristics? To give you an example, what about 'humane handling'? I am troubled by this label on a voluntary basis (who defines what 'humane handling' means?). The idea of it being mandated by government is horrible! Another example could be management related. With all the turmoil regarding antimicrobials, are we heading toward a push for a label that is 'natural', meaning no antibiotic use? You might say, "Well government would never do that." There are certainly some folks in the animal rights and health communities that would like to see those labels. How much money to lobby do they have compared to the beef industry? A fractured beef industry to be precise (more on that in a moment).

"With proof that volunteer programs work and no research to show mandated programs do, OCA membership has stayed away from government mandated marketing policies like mCOOL. Instead, OCA has promoted opportunities for producers to voluntarily pursue added value through marketing programs of their choice. Further, OCA formed a task force this past year to pursue an Oklahoma Beef Label. The task force of cattle men and women has met multiple times and is working toward a label that will recognize the quality of Oklahoma beef for those producers that want to participate.

"Finally, I am a big football fan. High school, college and NFL-I enjoy them all. I enjoy the rivalry games. Nothing better than Bedlam in my book. Second to Bedlam is the Red River Rivalry. Honestly, that game is enjoyable for many reasons. The history, the setting, the quality of teams, just to name a few. I cannot be described as a fan of either team but before the 2019 game I did become a fan and remain one even until now. Not of the teams mind you, but of an individual, Mike Defee. You don't recognize that name? He doesn't wear a number but rather a letter, "R". Referee Mike Defee did something at the beginning of the game that I so wish could happen more in our country today. During the pregame, both teams engaged in a rumble that threatened a nasty environment for the whole game. Defee penalized everyone in uniform before the game began with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty thus warning that another by anyone would result in their disqualification. Then at the midfield coin toss Defee said this, "This the greatest rivalry in college football-we're going to play this game with sportsmanship. Are we clear?"

"He acknowledged the emotion, passion and greatness for that game. He established and demanded that the game be played with professionalism and honor. I wish we had more of that kind of discipline in our country today. I wish we had it in our own industry. We are so blessed to be involved in our beef cattle livelihoods. We experience a closeness to nature that is Providential. The rancher is viewed by the American public as one of the most trusted individuals. Yet our own internal disagreements have digressed into name calling, mudslinging and even threats to our industry from within. We need to get back to our roots of dignity and honor. Yes, to hold our consumers' confidence but more importantly because it is the right thing to do. It is who we are and who we should be. That is very clear!

Source- Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association



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