Could part of the reason be that R-Calf is more concerned about closing borders than opening them?Our Perspective
How Did We Get So Sidetracked On Traceability?
The concept of traceability has been a hot-button topic for a long time, but somehow it's gotten tangled up in the BSE issue. ID's proponents see themselves as vindicated about ID's necessity, while opponents view it as just another USDA-led initiative that doesn't consider the needs of producers.
The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks, and the possibility of bio-terrorism attacks in the U.S., increased government's desire for traceability. The problem is that, in the process of considering traceability in this light, most folks in the industry missed the real impetus behind traceability, which is the marketplace.
The demand for source- and age-verified cattle is growing at a phenomenal rate both domestically and globally. The driver behind traceability is, and always will be, the marketplace. Being sidetracked by the food-safety and animal-health aspects, we've failed to embrace the desires of the marketplace.
If we'd focused on our customers, it's unlikely we'd find ourselves in the position of not only trailing nearly every beef-producing country in the world, but at risk of being uncompetitive in a large part of the global market.
The interminable delay in getting the Japanese and Korean borders open should have given us ample time to move forward. Instead, we essentially squandered it.
Attend meetings and you'll hear what Japan, Costco, Wal-Mart, McDonald's and our other customers are saying. It's not about a government-mandated program; it's about an industry responding to consumer demands.
The question shouldn't be whether the government timeline for ID implementation is too aggressive. It should be about how we can get a system implemented more quickly.
Canada has regained a much higher portion than the U.S. of its lost markets, but the message has been lost on U.S. cattlemen. The issue of traceability -- source, age or process verification -- isn't about governments, trade, food safety or animal health. It's about responding to the marketplace.
-- Troy Marshall