The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), which receives 82 percent of its annual revenues from government-mandated producer assessments under the national Beef Checkoff Program, is most likely using those government payments to offset the costs of its three-prong campaign to defeat country of origin labeling (COOL), that according to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
The NCBA was unsuccessful in its efforts to repeal COOL in the U.S. Congress and in its efforts to declare COOL unconstitutional and contrary to U.S. statutes in the three lawsuits it filed against COOL in U.S. courts. But, the NCBA has found a sympathizer for its anti-COOL campaign in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The WTO does not support country of origin labels and, instead, is promoting its own "Made in the World" initiative. The WTO initiative is replete with its own logo and is intended to promote global supply chains rather than domestic supply chains.
"There is an inherent conflict of interest within the WTO that is biased against country of origin labels like our U.S. COOL label as evidenced by the WTO's worldwide promotion of its own ‘Made in the World" label," said Bullard.
Bullard said this is why it is no surprise that the WTO has again ruled against the U.S. labeling law which he said is now fueling unsupported and outrageous claims of harm. The claims allege that harm is arising from a mere label that informs consumers as to where the animal that produced the meat they buy for their families was born, where it was raised, and where it was slaughtered.
He said, for example, "The NCBA's public claim that for six years the COOL law has provided no benefits and has only cost our U.S. cattle industry is absolute baloney."
"USDA data clearly show that during the past six years COOL has been in place, the returns per bred cow based on operating costs for U.S. cattle producers have steadily improved each and every year. In fact, in 2013 and 2014, the years when the latest COOL regulations were in place, the returns have been the highest in recent memory, if not in history," Bullard stated.
"The real problem is that the government is continually funding the NCBA through its national Beef Checkoff Program, which the U.S. Supreme Court has determined is a program that disseminates government speech, so NCBA can lead its anti-COOL campaign on behalf of the multinational meatpackers that have been trying to defeat COOL ever since its inception.
"We urge our U.S. Trade Representative to appeal the WTO's anti-COOL decision and we urge the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to finally put an end to the NCBA's cash cow – the millions of dollars of government mandated producer assessments that flow directly to the NCBA enabling it to fight against policies that are of great benefit and value to independent cattle producers and consumers," Bullard concluded.