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NCBA is an insidious and dangerous foe of U.S. cattlemen

by Mike Callicrate

(Friday, March 14, 2003 -- CropChoice guest commentary) --I was at NCBA's Joplin, Missouri, COOL [Country of origin labeling] bashing and fear mongering meeting this week. I heard the blatant lies of NCBA's [National Cattlemen's Beef Association] Jay Truitt and the packers on the panel. Lies such as: "There is no money in this for the producer. We will sue you. The consumer will sue you.", to the scare tactics of requiring third party verification on U.S. born and raised livestock.

The post COOL war has begun and NCBA, disguised as the cattlemen's representative, is clearly the enemy of the U.S. producer. After reading the following article, there should be no doubt where NCBA stands - on the side of the big packers, processors, and retailers who import and control our markets.

NCBA opposes the best interests of U.S. cattlemen, who are either being forced out of the industry with low prices, or who are rapidly losing their independent status on their way to chicken-farmer serfdom under Lord Tyson.

During the last beef checkoff board reorganization, U.S. cattlemen lost three seats because of the declining U.S. herd. The importers gained one seat due to increasing imports. Importers now control the second largest voting block on the beef board behind Texas.

The consumer can't make the choice to to buy U.S. beef, helping their own U.S. industry, if NCBA insists on cloaking imported beef as U.S. production.

Cattlemen, it's time to stand up for yourselves. The Country of Origin Labeling law is now a law of the people. The packers and retailers will have to obey the law whether they like it or not. Consumers and producers worked together like never before to achieve this important Act of Congress. Now we must fight to keep it. As happened with the price reporting legislation, the intent of COOL will be reversed during rule making if we don't stay vigilant and oppose the power of NCBA and their comrades.

NCBA made their choice to oppose cattlemen's interests when they invited the packers to be on the NCBA and checkoff boards. Hopefully, their choice will not prove fatal for cattlemen.

You can reach Mike Callicrate at mike@nobull.net.

Below is the story he mentioned.

No benefit to labelling law: NCBA

By Barbara Duckworth
Calgary bureau

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association wants the country-of-origin labelling law rescinded.

The American cattlemen's group supports a voluntary COOL program and fears a mandatory law could be too costly.

"We see it as a tax on ourselves. There is a whole lot of cost and no benefit," said Tom Broderick, president of the Missouri Cattlemen's Association.

"Everything rolls downhill and obviously it will roll on us," he said at the NCBA international trade committee session on Jan. 30.

Missouri has the second largest cow herd in the United States. Its producers worry the logistics of country-of-origin labelling, designed to prove their cattle were American born and raised, could be onerous. They also fear retaliation from retailers and packers if their records cannot be verified or are proven false.

Many producers said they prefer a voluntary program. They also expressed fears that consumers may not wish to pay more for meat for the sake of a label identifying where the animal was born.

The benefits of the labelling bill were intensely debated throughout committee sessions at the NCBA convention Jan. 30-31. It was agreed total consensus is necessary among farm groups when they lobby for change to the bill. Some delegates were not convinced everyone favours rescinding that section of the farm bill.

Montana introduced an amendment to extend the voluntary period from 2004 to 2006 to allow for an adjustment period and corrections to the law. That motion was defeated.

Ernie Morales, a Texas feedlot operator, feeds mostly cattle imported from Mexico. Many of these animals came from American stock.

"To put a label on there and say that is not good enough is self defeating," he said. "We would be nave to believe Mexico, which has become our largest trading partner, would not retaliate."

Jake Martynek of New York said lobby efforts must start now because by 2004 a new set of politicians may be in power and they may not be easily convinced that a mistake was made.