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Why we need COOL and why R-Calf is helping you

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Luke

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As cattle producers you all have a commodity (price-taker) that you sell. As the government enters into more free-trade agreements with other countries, it will continue to define our market, namely forcing us to compete against other contries on price. Because we have the highest costs of production (namely labor), our margins are less, therefore market dynamics forces production to the cheapest areas (steel, electronics, etc are examples). There is nothing that a national organization can do to lower costs for the producer, our government sets a minimum wage. Because we can not compete on a cost basis, to keep a healthy industry, we must differientiate ourselves from the competition. There are several producers who are marketing their own meat, take the Prather Ranch for example. They have differentiated themselves from the rest of the commerical producers and created a market premium, therefore not needing to compete on a low cost basis with producers in other countries. In short, COOL will help American producers more effectively use their marketing dollar to gain customers. Currently we are marketing for every animal sold in the US. We more marketing efficiency, you will see a direct increase in your bottom dollar. COOL is a necessity for a healthy industry. Farmers are slightly more organized and less divided then ranchers are now. In California there is a big marketing campaign to push CA GROWN. It works tremedously, creating profit for the local farmers.
Quality is the backbone of COOL, quality differentiates producers. Each rancher differentiates himself in his marketing campagin by the method of sale, who he talks to and the bulls he buys. Why not take that individual "quality" campaign that each producer uses to help sell his/her offerings and make it a national effort with the check off.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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And you need R-CALF WHY? didn't you say individuals are doing this them selves. Also like minded ranchers can market their products with out the Gov adding costs.
 

the chief

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Wow. First time poster and explained your points with intelligence and forethought. What are you doing on this board? :wink:
 

Murgen

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Quality is the backbone of COOL, quality differentiates producers

you're wrong, COOL, does nothing to differentiate quality, only country. I'm sure we all know producers in our own countries who produce a low standard product. Do you want it associated with yours, just because it is produced in the same country?
 

Murgen

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Wasn't he just jumping his car off closed bridges in the dukes of Hazard? Seems hazardous to me to follow a group like RCALF.
 

Tam

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Quality is the backbone of COOL, quality differentiates producers
Murgen is right COOL is Country of Origin Labeling what guarantees quality, and What differentiates producers when every thing is labeled?

In short, COOL will help American producers more effectively use their marketing dollar to gain customers.
Lukes what will happen if the consumers start listening to the lies about Canadian beef being unsafe, and reading the news artcles about how BSE is in the US and how it is being handled and the loopholes in your firewalls. Do you really think the US labeled beef will win over customers from a country that is either BSE free or from a country that has handled their BSE cases without all the mistakes and have stricter firewalls? You would like to believe COOL is going to save you but what if it does the opposite? And Luke if you think COOL is so great can you explain why it doesn't cover all beef sold in the US? And can you explain how you are going to prove that the meat labeled US beef is really US beef with no M"ID" in place?
 

PORKER

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Quote:
Quality is the backbone of COOL, quality differentiates producers

****TWO Thoughts on this,All this COOL has is that It is a COUNTRY of STANDARD . The other thought is that a complete set of records will show the difference within a COOL product such as corn fed or pasture fed with no implants.


Murgen is right COOL is Country of Origin Labeling what guarantees quality, and What differentiates producers when every thing is labeled?

*****EASY ,lets see if the animal raising practices are the same,NOT,One animal could be finished on barley and the other on grass,corn silage,and oats with the first animal a Belty and the other a Braford.


Quote:
In short, COOL will help American producers more effectively use their marketing dollar to gain customers.
****Tam,COOL is a label for a Country that gives the Consumer a CHOICE,be it good or BAD.


Lukes what will happen if the consumers start listening to the lies about Canadian beef being unsafe, and reading the news artcles about how BSE is in the US and how it is being handled and the loopholes in your firewalls. Do you really think the US labeled beef will win over customers from a country that is either BSE free or from a country that has handled their BSE cases without all the mistakes and have stricter firewalls?

****Remember,COOL is a Choice for the buyer to excerise while at the counter.

You would like to believe COOL is going to save you but what if it does the opposite?
****Do you feel better buying Brazilian IeBU/Holstien beef TAM for the same price?How about keeping their ranchers in business?

And Luke if you think COOL is so great can you explain why it doesn't cover all beef sold in the US?
****If Canada had COOL would they cover all beef sold TAM?

And can you explain how you are going to prove that the meat labeled US beef is really US beef with no M"ID" in place?
*****EASY ,Luke just has to buy some open records in the web-based recordkeeping system for $0.25 per animal at www.scoringag.com from me so his cattle will be Microbranded from the getgo.Luke can use my SPID number (0119540) to get started to prove that the meat labeled US beef is really Lukes, US. beef with no M"ID" in place.
 

Tam

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PORKER said:
Quote:
Quality is the backbone of COOL, quality differentiates producers

****TWO Thoughts on this,All this COOL has is that It is a COUNTRY of STANDARD . The other thought is that a complete set of records will show the difference within a COOL product such as corn fed or pasture fed with no implants.
Yea but not all US producer have said set of records.

Murgen is right COOL is Country of Origin Labeling what guarantees quality, and What differentiates producers when every thing is labeled?

*****EASY ,lets see if the animal raising practices are the same,NOT,One animal could be finished on barley and the other on grass,corn silage,and oats with the first animal a Belty and the other a Braford.
And One animal could be finished in Chicken Sh*t and plate waste.

Quote:
In short, COOL will help American producers more effectively use their marketing dollar to gain customers.
****Tam,COOL is a label for a Country that gives the Consumer a CHOICE,be it good or BAD.
Do consumer not have a choice now with all the branded beef campaigns that individuals have invested their money in. and if COOL turns bad how many of you will be yelling that COOL killed your sales.

Lukes what will happen if the consumers start listening to the lies about Canadian beef being unsafe, and reading the news artcles about how BSE is in the US and how it is being handled and the loopholes in your firewalls. Do you really think the US labeled beef will win over customers from a country that is either BSE free or from a country that has handled their BSE cases without all the mistakes and have stricter firewalls?

****Remember,COOL is a Choice for the buyer to excerise while at the counter.
Yes it is Porker and after the show R-CALF has been putting on if the consumers take heed to their warnings about Canadian beef COOL could affect your sales too.

You would like to believe COOL is going to save you but what if it does the opposite?
****Do you feel better buying Brazilian IeBU/Holstien beef TAM for the same price?How about keeping their ranchers in business?

If they take R-CALFs word that all beef coming from a country that has been affected by BSE is tainted and a genuine risk of death I think they could choose Brazilian or New Zealand or Australian beef over the US beef. And when it is their health concerns verses your livelyhood. I think you know what they will pick. Pork or Chicken or another BSE FREE countrys beef. That is why R-CALF standing hand in hand with anti beef groups claiming ALL beef coming from a country affect with BSE is a genuine risk of death was so stupid.

And Luke if you think COOL is so great can you explain why it doesn't cover all beef sold in the US?
****If Canada had COOL would they cover all beef sold TAM?

I'm not the one saying COOL is going to be our lifesaver so, it really doesn't matter what Canada does. IF you think it is so important for consumer to have a choice of what countrys beef they want to eat for "safety sake" then why don't you tell them that the hamburger that they just ate at McDonalds was probably imported meat.

And can you explain how you are going to prove that the meat labeled US beef is really US beef with no M"ID" in place?
*****EASY ,Luke just has to buy some open records in the web-based recordkeeping system for $0.25 per animal at www.scoringag.com from me so his cattle will be Microbranded from the getgo.Luke can use my SPID number (0119540) to get started to prove that the meat labeled US beef is really Lukes, US. beef with no M"ID" in place
Geez how did I know that you would use this to sell www.scoringag.com AGAIN. if COOL is Manditory then wouldn't every rancher in the US have to be sold on using www.scoringag.com so ALL cattle in the US could be traced? Are you going to let all of them use your SPID number to get started?
 

Luke

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I won't touch on all disagreements...my argument is sound.

One thing, I am speaking as a cow-calf producer based in the US. No offense to Canadians, but NCBA and R-Calf are US based organizations who were formed to protect our industry and promote our product.

1. We need R-Calf because the are empowering individual producers within the US. NCBA already gets $1 to market our calves, there would be no added costs to retarget our marketing efforts. Individuals of a like mind do market calves successfully, but there is power in a national organization. NCBA is not dynamic and is slow to change, if nothing else R-CALF will force NCBA to listen to their membership. Competition is great and keeps everyone on their toes.
2. If all meat is COOL, the differntiation doesn't have to stop there. Individual companies can target seperate markets. Take clothing...Macy's sells clothes made in China, the same place that Wal-mart's and Target's clothing is made. All they have is different packaging, namely better astetics within the store.
3. COOL is a national effort to help everyone, individuals who ID their meat are one step ahead of their neighbor. Why should we negatively hurt the whole to protect the few that have profit gains from individually ID'd meat. Why not bring everyone on board. Education is the key.
4. I am not wrong about COOL, I am basing my argument on the fact that consumers associate quality with a country, namely their home country and it is all on perception. This response was from someone in Canada, in Canada they are very proud, proud of the hockey, films and agriculture. It is a competition, "I can produce it better then you." It is all about perceptions, if we can not produce a product that gives the perception of quality, so be it. That is business.
5. Everyone should make their own decisions about R-Calf, they are not your father's organization. Make that decision yourself, truly read what is said and why they are making the arguments.
6. Don't work on fear, I am a strick beleiver in the open market. If COOL persuades customers to buy meat from another country, so be it. The product is bad, you have time to improve that product and if you don't then customers won't buy it. American car companies nearly when out of business because they were making a bad product...there wasn't any loss there, we as consumers got more value from companies who followed market demands.
7. Very good, COOL is a decision making tool for consumers...it is our job as producers to make a good product and market it successfully.

Would you buy a T.V. without a brand name on it? That brand name gives the consumer a choice, based on that consumer's perception of quality. COOL will enable choices, this shouldn't drive fear into Canadian producers because, like I said before they are proud and implied that they love competition. There is no reason why they can't produce a better product then us, but COOL will leave it up to them to compete within our market, giving us a competitive advantage to our consumers (association). Why should NCBA fight giving our producers a competitive advantage? Why shouldn't the Canadians want their product differentiated, because they can produce a better product...

If you are interested in Economics read Richardo (very interesting divulgence into market forces using agriculture in england circa 1700's), if you are interested in controls, please read Porter (the world's leading mind on Strategic Decision making). Market economics explain why we need differentiation and Porter's control of the product lines will enable producers from one country indentify their products. Only one country because you must measure inputs and outputs. A seperate country would have different inputs and outputs.

Don't operate on fear, find out why there are so many people supporting R-Calf. I don't want to offend anyone because it doesn't promote disccussion, but calling R-Calf - R-CULT, implies that the writer doesn't know anything about the organization.
I read on this disscussion that McDonald was associated with the Democratic party, even though I am from California, I am a strong republican...I have contept for them, but don't judge someone by their party affiliations. Many of us are married to democrats or deal with them.
**Many people grew up with their parents associating with one party and now they feel obligated to defend that organization**
 

Luke

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Attn: Poker
All US producers will have to have said set of records, for the good of the industry. Please don't make exuses for a lack of industry education...

"...there is no such thing as low-tech industry. There are only low-tech companies - that is, companies that fail to use world-class technology and practices to enhance productivity and innovation. "

Michael E. Porter "Clusters and the New Economics of Competition." Harvard Business Review, 1998

Customers have a choice, don't operate on fear! They have a choice now, if COOL turns bad, it isn't COOL's fault, it is the industry's fault for not having tight controls on the product...Choice is good, why wouldn't we encourage people to have a piece of chicken every once in a while, it will remind them how good that steak tasted.
**don't make unsupported claims about R-Calf, please site where R-CALF has associated with anti-beef groups...from somewhere other then NCBA's site. It isn't that I don't beleive R-CALF has made alliances, I believe that their alliances are made for a reason...making a blind claim that R-CALF is associating with "bad" groups implies that you have no idea why, when or where they did it.
Dis-association with McDonalds would not be bad. They buy low quality meat and mix it to make every hamburger taste the same.
 

whiteface

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I see Miss Tam is well on her way to straightening you out Luke. Just wait until SH finds you. We'll get Mike to do the commentary on the "show." Hope you got stamina. Have a good day all!
 

Tam

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Luke said:
Attn: Poker
All US producers will have to have said set of records, for the good of the industry. Please don't make exuses for a lack of industry education...

"...there is no such thing as low-tech industry. There are only low-tech companies - that is, companies that fail to use world-class technology and practices to enhance productivity and innovation. "

Michael E. Porter "Clusters and the New Economics of Competition." Harvard Business Review, 1998

Customers have a choice, don't operate on fear! They have a choice now, if COOL turns bad, it isn't COOL's fault, it is the industry's fault for not having tight controls on the product...Choice is good, why wouldn't we encourage people to have a piece of chicken every once in a while, it will remind them how good that steak tasted.
**don't make unsupported claims about R-Calf, please site where R-CALF has associated with anti-beef groups...from somewhere other then NCBA's site. It isn't that I don't beleive R-CALF has made alliances, I believe that their alliances are made for a reason...making a blind claim that R-CALF is associating with "bad" groups implies that you have no idea why, when or where they did it.
Dis-association with McDonalds would not be bad. They buy low quality meat and mix it to make every hamburger taste the same.

You saying don't operate on fear is a joke isn't it. :wink: R-CALF is all about Fear. Fear of competition. They have been telling consumers to fear our beef as it is a genuine risk of death. They have been telling the US producers to fear the border openning as the flood of cattle will destroy your historically high cattle prices. They have been telling US producer you can't afford to import Canadian cattle because they fear the spread of BSE. They fear your firewall loopholes and say that is why you can't import.
And We all know the reason they stood with the "Consumer groups that have work against beef" Leo said himself he did it because these groups get alot more media attention and that is what he needed was media attention to get his fear mongering message out to more people. So Please don't assume we don't know why he did it :roll: . He told us in his own words why. He was using them to further his own agenda. Leo will say and do anything to further his agenda and he has proved that many times. For example According to R-CALF all beef coming from a country affected by BSE is tainted, unsafe and a genuine risk of death. But Leo was quoted saying .
So if for some reason we did find a case we can stand and look our consumers right in the eye and say, don’t worry we have had these firewalls in place for years, the only country prior to having a case of BSE to have these firewalls in place for so many years. And we did it to make sure if a case was ever found it was a non-issue. If we look them right in the eye and say that I will guarantee they will keep eating beef”.
Now if Beef coming from a country affected by BSE is a genuine risk of death why would Leo guarantee the US consumer wouldn't stop eatting US beef if BSE was found in the US?
Another example, Leo was quoted as to have said
“we know if we are going to keep consumer confidence we are going to maintain some of the highest standards in the world to make sure that BSE is not introduced into this country. And we are going to make sure we have the best meat and bone meal ban in this country in place.
Luke have you looked at the US standards and firewalls that Leo was talking about in these quotes. First R-CALF has been saying the reason the US can't import live cattle is because of the risk of spreading BSE so if you had the highest standards in the world and the best firewalls to protect consumers like Leo said, how could BSE spread? R-CALF claims the US has the safest beef in the World. How come Canadian beef is tainted and a genuine risk of death from BSE but the US has the safest beef in the world that Leo will guarantee consumers will not stop eating.
Another example of the truth out of R-CALF Dennis McDonald was quoted in a North Dakota paper as saying this, "If there is a positive case again in the U.S., we as a beef producing nation shouldn't market beef in cattle older that 20 months". Luke have you heard R-CALF come out since the discovery of BSE in the US herd and demand the US stop marketing beef from cattle over 20 months. No because their membership along with the rest of the US beef industry would see a 20% to 30% drop in their income and that would not go over very well would it. R-CALF tells the story that fits the conversation without think about what is coming out of their mouths and being quoted in the media. Then they try defend it and then if that doesn't work they deny ever saying it and if that doesn't work they have guys like Haymaker telling everyone to just forget it. You can defend R-CALF all you want but the fact is they stood at a press conference with "consumer groups" and bad monthed Canadian beef. They went to the US courts and bad monthed Canadian beef. They have lied to the public and they know no shame when it comes to the lenghts they will go to stop competition. How many Court cases will they have to loss to prove that to some of you followers. Do you like throwing your money at Lawyers just so they can lose another court case. Why not work with the industry instead of trying to tear it apart with lies and fear. As you say Don't operate on fear be a part of the solution instead the problem.
 

Luke

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Thanks TAM for your thoughtful reply, it is an interesting perspective. I respectively disagree with you and it might be because we look at the markets differently. Competition is great, I welcome open borders, just as you do because you have a competitive advantage over us in the cost of production. That is why your meat is competitive in our markets. My belief is that the borders shouldn't have been opened without COOL. This is a two sided sword, as I spoke before, it is up to the nation's producers to develop and protect a good product.
You have some negative feelings against R-CALF because they closed our markets to live cattle from Canada. Don't take it personally, every national organization should take steps to protect their nation's industry. Leo's underlying argument is that we have the ability to control our processes, not yours. Your country has its own laws and regs. He has confidence in our laws and our producers, not yours. Take his comments from our perspective.
Once again, competition is great, but let COOL be implimented so our customers can make a choice at the counter. Do you have a problem with our government implementing COOL and if so, why?
 
A

Anonymous

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Luke: "There are several producers who are marketing their own meat, take the Prather Ranch for example. They have differentiated themselves from the rest of the commerical producers and created a market premium, therefore not needing to compete on a low cost basis with producers in other countries."

Excellent point COOL hand Luke!

Congratulations, you have just proven that we don't need a government mandate to do what the free enterprise system is already doing.


You want to know the facts on FLAWED "M"COOL, here's the facts:


The Facts Behind Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling

Don’t consumers have a right to know where their beef comes from? This rhetorical question was the standard argument used repeatedly by proponents of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (“M”COOL). That argument sounds good on the surface and garnered much of the current support for “M”COOL but this issue goes much deeper than consumers having the right to know where their beef comes from. The concept is easy to support but implementation, enforcement, and cost/benefit questions remain mostly unanswered.

Ironically, the same proponents of “M”COOL who insisted on consumers knowing which beef was from cattle that were exclusively “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.” are also telling USDA not to burden them with traceback on their cattle to verify the claims on the label. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it, too. I wonder how many consumer groups are aware of this effort to water down the enforcement aspects of this labeling law? It’s also ironic that those who claim to be in the cattle industry and not the beef industry are telling those in the beef industry how to market beef.

Foreign Beef Small Percentage

Let’s forget the standard arguments for a moment and focus strictly on the facts of this legislation. The first important fact to consider is that only an estimated 5% of our current beef consumption in the U.S. would be labeled as “foreign beef” under this law. The balance would be either labeled as “Product of U.S.” or “U.S. Beef” or it would be exempt from labeling. Nobody knows what the future of trade holds but this is the situation with normal trade with Canada and Mexico.

Recent figures from USDA show that 20% of our domestic beef consumption is imported beef and live cattle. Of this 20%, 75% of these imports end up in “food service” where they would be exempt as written in the “M”COOL law.

A large percentage of our beef imports are lean trimmings from Australia and New Zealand that we blend with our surplus 50/50 trim to add value to it. Over 90% of these trimmings find their way to the food service (hotels, restraunts, and institutions) industry. Food service establishments such as McDonalds, Taco John’s, Pizza Hut, and many others, which constitute around 50% of our total beef consumption, will be exempt from this law. The entire poultry industry is also exempt from “M”COOL as it’s been proposed.

The “food service exemption” is a primary reason that “M”COOL got as far as it did. Logistically, it would be quite a challenge to label every McDonalds hamburger, label the meat on every Domino’s pizza, label the meat in every Taco John’s taco, and label every Ball Park hot dog even if the consumer was asking for it. They obviously are not.

What does this “food service exemption” mean in regard to “M”COOL? It means that currently, only 5% of our total beef consumption in the U.S. would be labeled as “foreign beef” under this law because of this exemption. (That is, providing that the remaining 5% is not also channeled toward food service). For that reason, under the current import situation, most consumers will not have the opportunity to make a choice between foreign and domestic beef even if this law was enforceable.

Of the small percentage of beef that might currently be labeled as “foreign beef’, most would be from Canada and Mexico. Canada currently has a source verification system that helped them to trace their recent BSE situation. They have a consumer safety edge from that standpoint. In contrast, Mandatory ID was specifically forbidden from our Country of Origin Labeling law.

Canada and the United States have been trading genetics for years making Canada’s beef quality every bit as good as our northern cattle. Their carcass data confirms this. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the facts. In regard to Mexican beef, considering the percentage of our population that is Hispanic, it’s doubtful that they would shy away from the sliver of beef that is labeled as being born in Mexico and fed in the United States.



Enforcement an Issue

Next, let’s look at the enforcement aspects of this law. As mentioned previously, the same proponents of this law that said “consumers should have the right to know where their beef comes from”, are also telling USDA that they do not want to be burdened with traceback to prove origination. This has been one of the most deceitful tactics used by the proponents of this law. Without proper enforcement and an adequate traceback system, the food safety value that this law supposedly provides is questionable.

“M”COOL proponents only wanted imported animals to be tracked and the balance to be “presumed” as U.S. origin. The problem with that idea is that the law clearly states that “any person engaged in the business of supplying a covered commodity to a retailer shall provide information to the retailer indicating the country of origin of the covered commodity”. Nowhere does the law suggest that only imported animals would be tracked.

There are also trade laws to consider regarding the marking of imported animals. Proponents of this law keep throwing out the “presumption of US origin” argument as an alternative to traceback of domestic cattle when USDA has stated clearly that “presumption of US origin” is not an option due to the constraints of both laws.

Some have contended, based on their interpretation of the law, that only retailers would need to provide information and that live cattle are not a covered commodity therefore should not fall under the guidelines of proving origination. Consider that these same proponents of “M”COOL insisted on proving which beef was from cattle that were exclusively “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.”.

The intent of this law was quite clear when it was written. It becomes obvious that neither a retailer nor a processor can determine the origin of the beef without also determining the origin of the cattle the beef came from. After all, beef is not “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.”, live cattle are. There’s no way around the initial intent of this law despite the best efforts of those who are against a traceback system to verify the claims of the label.

The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has also stated that processors are within their legal rights to require information from producers to verify the origin of the cattle and understandably so as there is no other way to substantiate the origin claims of the label without verification as this law is written.

What we ended up with is a law that must prove which cattle were “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.” without adequate enforcement to substantiate the claims of the label because Mandatory ID was prohibited. Where’s the logic in that? You tell me! Proponents have viewed additional efforts to water down the enforcement aspects of this law as a positive step. This law is flawed and deceptive by not offering consumers what it had originally implied.

Affidavits are Inadequate

Some have suggested that if “Presumption of U.S. Origin” is not an option, then producers should be allowed to use signed affidavits to verify the origination of their cattle. It’s highly unlikely that consumers would ever allow labeling claims to be verified solely based on a signed affidavit without some sort of traceback system.

Even if consumers would be willing to accept labeling claims based solely on a signature, this still requires a change in the law as it is currently worded. From history, we know that a signature is only as good as its enforcement. The LMA’s checkoff petition drive revealed this when it was proven that 33% of these signatures were fraudulent.

If producers could positively identify their livestock based solely on a signature, we wouldn’t need brand inspection anywhere. Those of us who live in brand inspection areas know that signed affidavits, without a brand to verify the affidavit, wouldn’t be effective from an enforcement standpoint.

It’s interesting to note that those who have liability concerns with traceback do not have liability concerns about signed affidavits. If they are equal in their ability to verify a label from an enforcement standpoint, one has to ask why the preference for one over the other? Either “signed affidavits” are verifiable proof to back the claims of a label or they’re not! I think the answer is obvious!

Just as interesting is the fact that those who claim that packers are trying to hide foreign beef behind the USDA inspection stamp are now trusting packers enough to correctly label imported beef with only a signature as verifiable proof. There is no consistency in the arguments of the proponents of this law.

Branding could be used as a means of source verification but not all states or areas have brand inspection and there is duplications of brands between states. Either way, this only tracks the cattle, not the estimated 300 packages of beef that these cattle may become.

Proponents of “M”COOL continually attempt to equate “M”COOL to the school lunch program when the requirements for origin of the two are not the same. In the COOL law, to be designated as U.S. origin requires meat products to be from cattle, hogs, and sheep that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States. In contrast, USDA's commodity procurement program requires meat products to come from U.S. produced livestock which excludes only imported meat and meat from livestock imported for direct slaughter.

The Inevitable “Blame Game”

The USDA is the agency that is in charge of implementation and enforcement of this law. Many want to blame USDA for not being able to implement this law as proponents had intended but when you read the law, it becomes obvious that this law would be very difficult to enforce as it is written. If the law allowed it, tracking imported cattle to the packing plant is not the problem. The problem is when you try tracking an estimated 300 packages of beef from an imported carcass that end up being shipped to various destinations with packages of beef of mixed origin without a mandatory ID system.

The wording on the label has to be substantiated with adequate enforcement. One solution to this, providing that the law as written is changed, might be for processors to schedule cattle that were not “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the U.S.”, only on certain days. This would create slaughter scheduling problems of scheduling enough foreign cattle to maintain plant flow. Another potential solution is DNA testing to match the package with the cattle that the beef came from but at this point DNA testing is cost prohibitive.

Certainly with modern technology these carcasses and the beef products that they become can be traced but the first question that must be asked is, will this tracing mechanism be enforceable to assure consumers of the validity of the label? The second question that must be asked is will the expenses of differentiating 5% of the beef be worth the costs of labeling all the beef and the costs of implementation and enforcement? Those questions have not been answered adequately for beef producers.

Consumer Loyalty to US Products Questionable

NCBA supports voluntary Country of Origin labeling. The justification being to allow any potential consumer demand for U. S. BEEF, to drive the market needs rather than another government mandate. I know of two source verified “US BEEF” products currently in production neither of which are realizing any noticeable premium above commodity beef prices. There has not been any evidence provided to suggest that consumers are willing to pay enough more for 95% of the U.S. labeled commodity beef to offset the costs of labeling all beef.

Proponents of “M”COOL have used a study from CSU as proof of consumer’s willingness to pay more for U.S. BEEF. CSU later responded to this misinterpretation of their study by suggesting that Country of Origin was not a priority with most consumers when compared to other issues such as price, flavor, tenderness, etc . Consumer purchases of New Zealand lamb and Argentina Grass Fed Beef are two examples of how consumers are not always as loyal to U.S. products as we would hope. All the foreign products that surround our daily lives including our clothes is also proof that we are not always as loyal to domestic products as we would like to believe. In comparing what consumers say and what consumers do, one finds out that “talk is cheap”!

It’s interesting to note that those who claim that the packers and retailers do not pass on the benefits of the beef checkoff are suggesting that packers would pass on the benefits of “M”COOL. Can’t have it both ways.


Costs to implement “M”COOL

The last issue of contention is what will the “M” COOL implementation costs be? Numerous cost estimations have been presented but all are just educated guesses. Suspiciously absent from these cost estimates is one from those who are pushing hardest for this law. Costs will no doubt raise and lower according to the accountability that is required in verifying the label. If the enforcement aspects of this law are reduced to signed affidavits, of course the costs will lower but so will the consumer confidence in the validity of the label.

What we know for sure is that there will be costs and those costs are always passed down the line to the producer. To think that the processors and retailers will absorb these extra costs without passing them on to the producers in the form of lower cattle prices is foolish.

Finding solutions

So what is the solution to making this flawed law work? One suggestion is for “M”COOL proponents to step up to the plate, change the law, and allow for source verification to substantiate the claims on the label which would give consumers and producers food safety value. This would allow traceback for disease and food safety reasons, it would allow us to remain competitive with our export markets, and it would still allow differentiation of the 5% of our current U.S. beef consumption that might be labeled as imported. This is the common ground between the polarized sides of this issue. This would benefit consumers but the benefits to producers is certainly questionable.

If an enforceable traceback system is not an option, the second suggestion is to get rid of this flawed law and let the free enterprise system do what it does best and keep further government regulation out of our industry.

Either consumers have a right to know where their beef comes from by making this law enforceable or they don’t. Either producers who want to differentiate foreign products are willing to stand behind this desire by proving it, or they’re not. If this law is not enforceable, it offers nothing of value to the consumers and burdens producers with additional expense and yet another governmental intervention into our lives.

I support consumers knowing where their beef comes from, both foreign and domestic beef, if that is what they desire but I will not support interfering with the consumer’s ability to verify the claims on a food label nor USDA’s ability to enforce it. Our customers deserve better than that!


~SH~
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Luke: "I am not wrong about COOL, I am basing my argument on the fact that consumers associate quality with a country, namely their home country and it is all on perception."

Based on that argument, I guess our Hispanic population will prefer Mexican beef over U.S. beef then huh?

Consumers shop based on price and value first. Country of Origin is not high on the priority list of consumers especially when 95% of the beef labeled under "M"COOL would be U.S. beef. If Country of Origin is so important, why is Walmart selling so many products made in China?

What "M"COOL does is make a novelty item out of foreign beef at the expense of labeling all beef. An expense absorbed by the producer.

If consumers were asking for Country of Origin, the free enterprise system could be providing it now. You say you are a conservative Republican yet here you are favoring a flawed government mandate over the free enterprise sytsem. Sorry Charlie but your dog won't hunt.

Here's one for you Luke. R-CALF cited a study in Colorado that stated that consumers would prefer U.S. beef. If that's so, why has Mike Callicrate, according to R-CALF's publication, failed to realize a profit when he is offering a "Born, Raised, and Processed in the U.S." branded beef product in Colorado?

Why did New Zealand lamb out sell U.S. lamb when differentiated at the market place?

Why did Argentina grass fed beef sales on the East Coast make the cover of the Wall Street Journal?

No Luke you are definitely wrong about the flawed "M" COOL law.

As written, "M"COOL is a joke.

Welcome to the forum!

It's always good to expose more R-CALF supporters to the flaws in their arguments.



~SH~
 

Luke

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Thanks for your input, the Prather Ranch proves that differentiation is a key to profitability. It doesn't prove that every producer has the opportunity to market their beef indpendently to consumers. My point with COOL is that our already mandatory checkoff dollar can be used to fund marketing for our own cattle. The checkoff dollar that is paid at the sale yard, not at the slaughter plant.

One note: I am not in R-CALF or NCBA. I am a producer and I hate to see the industry tear itself apart. My suggestion, not an argument, is that: R-CALF is an US organization that is protecting US industry, COOL differentiates based on a consumer's perception of quality, COOL will enable our checkoff dollars to be used more efficiently to drive demand of US beef.


The Facts Behind...
Your response is rhetorical and I am not going to go around with you on that issue. I believe that customers have a right to choose. Ironically, COOL scares enough people, with all the answers, into saying that implementation, enforcement, and cost/benefit questions are not answered.
Foreign Beef
Good is good, bad is bad. Although I don't know where you got your figures and why the person who came up with those figures couldn't figure out how much it would cost, I can honestly say that 5% is still worthy of an effort. Many producers operate on a 5% margin or less, if 5% of their cattle died then it wouldn't seem like such a small amount. Personally, I believe that the people in the beef industry can go that extra %, do the extra work. Who is actually shying away from the work?
Enforement
This is a key issue and I agree that you must have an adequate system in place to track the cattle. It is too bad that so many people are against it
Affidavits
Your mortage is only as good as your signature. Can't your bank use the courts to take your ground, based on your signature, promise to pay? What good is our court system if it can't rely on a signature? Would a nortarized affidavit be better? We have laws to protect us within the US aganist cheats. There will always be someone trying to beat the system...check out baseball's problem...Palmerio gave his word in front of congress.
It is interesting that you have the same argument as the packers, but then say that you can't trust the packers to have a good tracking system for affidavits.

Blame Game
Who would burden those 5% of costs, the consumer or the packer? I am sure that eventually they would get back to the producer, but who knows what the eventual benefit of "M" Cool would be? Why are the packers so opposed of implementing a traceable system for their outputs? You offer an alternative, but why is it possible for Wal-mart to track billions of packages and the beef industry is unable to figure out a logistics system that satisfies.
Consumers
Can we use the checkoff to encourage more customer loyalty or should we support "generic" beef with that checkoff? Perception surveys are great, the trouble is that they are "read" by an individual. Completing my masters, I conducted several perception surveys and they told me exactly what I was looking for, it all depends on your sample size, how the question is posed and the perception of that said question. Basically those perception surveys are flawed, historical data is better because everything else is just a projection.
Costs
There is a learning curve for everything, as we get more efficient, it will cost less over time. Passing these studies off as "educated" guesses while siting other studies is not very telling. Someone said that the price paid for a good is the sum of all inputs, including labor. As it is now, all costs are passed backwards, why scare people with this added cost? This is just business, if someone is scared about more costs, they shouldn't be in the business because that is today's world.
Finding Solutions
Please don't start an argument by making a clear assumption. In your mind the law is flawed, it isn't a great way to encourage disscussion. And it is your impression that the law is flaw based on your own previsous statements. You should start that statment with "I believe," let people decide for themselves.
I support "M" COOL because it will force us as an industry to implement control processes that will enable us to produce a "cleaner" product. Free Trade agreements with developing countries (not Canada or Mexico) will eventually shift production of meat to the country that has a comparative advantage...comparitive advantages could be tech, labor or land that lowers costs. I support "M" COOL because it forces our industry to act together, making sure that our product is better then the low-cost alternative.
I am sure this will continue. Thanks for the discussion. Lets keep this a discussion on theories and not get emotion or industry ties involved. Too many people are tied to an organizational mindset that doesn't promote learning. It promotes following the organization's taglines and brings emotion into it.
 

Luke

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Based on that argument, the Hispanic population would prefer Mexican beef...So what? I believe that our product should demand a premium and that we shouldn't use our checkoff to get the mexican consumers to buy our product.

You have a couple things right, consumers do shop on price. But they also look at the promotion, place and product. Walmart is selling so many products made in China because they are focused on price. Their target market is a price sensitive market. They don't sell our products because American industry has made an effort to differentiate themselves based on quality, not price. The cattle industry in the US and Canada must do the same, eventually. You don't go into Wal-Mart to buy the best...

"M" Cool will make a novelty item out of the product that has the best quality, price and promotion. Namely the best value for the customer. Your statement implies that we as an industry can't use the checkoff dollar to encourage a high perception of quality in US beef.

Mike Callicrate is an individual with his own mind. That is a fault of his own, not one of the industry or mine. I am not going to defend him not getting a premium for his product.

NZ has a comparative advantage over the US market because of the strong industry there. You can't even buy US lamb in our local market, it is all NZ lamb. I have met several producers, my grandfather used to raise lamb, until another country had a cost advantage and it didn't pay. Please don't let this same situation happen to the cattle industry.

AR's grass fed beef probably made the cover through a great promoter. It wasn't because consumers demanded that this product be put there. That was one individual's decision to highlight a market. It was probably the same person who put Usama Bin Laden's face on the front cover.

As I said, these are my personal opinions as a producer. I am not a member of R-CALF, as far as I know. I have listened to several R-CALF guys talk, but on the other side, I have listened to several NCBA guys. I had dinner with Eric Davis. I had dinner with Bill Bullard. Neither would probably remember me though.
 

Tam

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Leo's underlying argument is that we have the ability to control our processes, not yours. He has confidence in our laws and our producers, not yours. Take his comments from our perspective.
Once again, competition is great, but let COOL be implimented so our customers can make a choice at the counter. Do you have a problem with our government implementing COOL and if so, why?

So Leo has confidence in the US laws and producers does he. Then tell us why the border is still closed. If it not in part that the US beef herd would be put at risk. If the only known way of spreading BSE in the herd is through feeding ruminant to ruminant, doesn't that tell you Leo doesn't have confidence in the US system to keep the infected cattle from reaching the US herd via the US feed system? and that the Producers will not feed chicken litter to their cattle if it is the cheapest protein they can buy? Real confidence there Luke. And Leo's confidence in the safety of the US beef is not the problem Luke Credibility is. How can all beef coming from Canada be tainted and a genuine risk of death becauses of BSE but the US beef is the world safest beef even though the US also has BSE? How can firewalls that are to weak to protect the US consumer from imported cattle and beef protect the US consumer from US Cattle and beef? Leo said you have had these firewalls that are there to protect but on the other hand he says they aren't strong enough to protect. What is with that Luke? Real confidence. Leo also says that R-CALFs problem is not with the Canadian producer. Tell us Luke why then is he lieing about the safety of our beef to anyone that will listen just to keep the border closed. The lie about Canada still processes downers and the US doesn't was that said to get the USDA, who he says their fight is really with, to change your downer processing rules? Leo also has a problem with Canada's testing, was his lie about the US tests 150,000 more head annually than Canada, to get the USDA to use the right test to confirm positive BSE cases? Look at the two systems. Who really has a problem with the credibility of their testing? The US had one cow in the food chain and the other was tested negitive and then 7 months later was found positive . Leads to alot of confidence in your system doesn't it Luke. Leo said Canada has a chronic problem with their Meat and Bone Meal (MBM) feed ban and that it is ineffective. Was that lie to get the USDA to beef up the US feed bans. The US producers have alot to fear but our system is the least of your worries.

Do you have a problem with our government implementing COOL and if so, why
Yes because of the way R-CALF wants it implimented which is by labeling the imports and the rest is US beef by default. We prove where our beef comes from right back to the ranch it was born on but you don't have that expense do you. You have COUNTRY of Origin by default, but isn't what the consumer really should know is where in that country. So if there is a problem with the meat they know where to go to see if it is an isolated case or if there is a bigger problem. You don't have that expense to bear do you? Just label it US and to he** with the rest of the information that could guarantee the label is what a consumer would like to know. Why don't you want to back that label with proof of where your beef really comes from instead of labeling by default? And again if it is so important that consumer know where their beef comes from why not all beef? Why the exemptions on food service food?
 

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