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McDonnell Talks with Louisiana Cattle Producers

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Feb 13, 2005
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-----Original Message-----
From: R-CALF USA [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2005 4:57 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: McDonnell Talks with Louisiana Producers: New Affiliate on Board
Importance: High

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

For Immediate Release Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator
June 23, 2005 Phone: 406-672-8969; e-mail: [email protected]

McDonnell Talks with Louisiana Cattle Producers;
New Affiliate Comes on Board

(Billings, Mont.) - R-CALF USA President and Co-Founder Leo McDonnell continued his whirlwind tour of southern states on Wednesday with an early stop at the Delhi Livestock Auction, in Delhi, La., to address approximately 150 cattle producers. Owners of the auction house, R-CALF USA members Gary Hinton and the Max Shelton family, graciously offered to host the event.

Later that evening, McDonnell spoke for two hours at a standing-room-only meeting in Oak Grove, Ill., with the West Carroll Cattlemen's Association (WCCA). Just days before, WCCA members voted unanimously to become an R-CALF USA affiliate organization.

"WCCA has 60 to 70 members, and we're one of the first R-CALF affiliates in the state of Louisiana," said Mike Kovac. "We decided to take that important step because we feel R-CALF is the only national organization that's looking out for the interests of those of us in the Louisiana beef cattle industry.

"Last night's program brought out the biggest crowd we've ever had at a meeting," Kovac continued. "Leo talked for two hours and covered everything, and everybody there was extremely attentive the entire time. Leo was passionate about what he said, and the crowd could easily see that he firmly believed in what he had to say."

McDonnell launched into his comments by thanking everyone for their hospitality during his trip.

"The growth in R-CALF USA, the fund-raiser calf sales we've had across the country, and the size of producer meetings we've had are unprecedented in this industry," said McDonnell, reinforcing the strong support cattle producers across the U.S. have for the organization. "We look forward to producers in the south and southeastern U.S. getting more involved in R-CALF so we can work together to develop good policy for the cattle industry."

On the topic of country-of-origin labeling (COOL), McDonnell recalled countless experiences with the media when he had asked reporters if they thought the term "USDA Choice" or the USDA inspection stamp on meat products indicated those items were products of the U.S.A.

"I've yet to meet a reporter who didn't think that symbol meant the item was a U.S. product, and that's why voluntary COOL will never work," he said. "Don't kid yourself - under voluntary COOL, the market rewards deception and false assumptions."

McDonnell reminded the crowd of the response by a U.S. hamburger chain when Canada reported its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in May 2003.

"That chain immediately put out ads reassuring the public that they served only 'USDA-inspected' beef," he pointed out. "This is a prime example of what goes on everyday in when USDA allows hundreds of imported products to create these false assumptions. Mandatory COOL is about allowing U.S. ranchers to compete by being truthful in our labeling, and after all, isn't that the American Way?"

On the subject of international trade, McDonnell said the U.S. cattle industry, at this point in time, is not winning.

"Our domestic herd is contracting, while other countries have maintained or even increased the size of their herds," he said. "When you add cattle and beef together on a supply basis, you get an increasing trade deficit, so you're not winning."

McDonnell said that there is not a single member of Congress that does not realize that passage of the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) will result in U.S. ranchers facing lower precedents than ever before when future South American free trade agreements are negotiated.

When R-CALF USA's litigation against USDA to keep the Canadian border closed to imports of live cattle and additional beef products was mentioned, one audience member asked about the 'friend-of-the-court' brief filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"If NCBA and Farm Bureau are successful in overturning the R-CALF's injunction against USDA, the United States will become a dumping ground for beef and live cattle that every other modern beef-consuming country has banned," McDonnell warned.

"Tell me, how is that going to benefit U.S. ranchers and U.S. consumers," he asked. "At least we now know why those groups are opposed to COOL."

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA's membership consists primarily of cow-calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members - over 18,000 strong - are located in 47 states, and the organization has over 60 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.

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