The following is an op-ed submitted to Ohio newspapers for the Thanksgiving holiday.
by Warren Taylor and Joe Logan
As American families prepare their Thanksgiving turkeys, they should thank local livestock farmers producing beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. Unfortunately, politicians, lobbyists and trade negotiators in DC are working against those farmers. Shockingly, in our great country, which celebrates independent farmers and ranchers, America’s largest pork processor is Shuanghui International Holdings, a Chinese corporation. Our second largest beef company, JBS USA is a Brazilian corporation. These trans-national corporate giants show the extent of consolidation, and how globalization has played out.
These huge businesses find it profitable to shop global markets for low cost meat cuts that end up for sale in American supermarkets. Their profits soar higher as they avoid labeling the meat’s source. Customers trust American farmers and regulators to provide safe, healthy food products. Not necessarily so for Chinese or Brazilian meat.
Naturally, these meat packers oppose requirements to label the sources of meats. Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) is that law. Although passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2002, foreign and trans-national food corporations have prevented implementation, and now look to repeal COOL.
It’s disappointing that they have found powerful allies in the Beef and Pork promotion organizations authorized by Congress and mostly funded by American farmers and ranchers. The National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) are adamant opponents of COOL. The very livestock promotion organizations who should speak for American farmers and ranchers are working against their interests and the interests of 90% of American consumers seeking honest information about how and where their food is produced.
Impossible? Most other industrial agriculture nations require Country Of Origin Labeling for food. The American Meat Institute, The National Grocers Association, McDonalds and others shamelessly interested in sourcing the cheapest food possible, have assaulted America’s COOL laws. After passage in the 2002 Farm Bill and surviving four Federal Court suits, COOL is facing repeated World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges.
It’s bad enough when American business interests used money and influence to get their way in Washington DC, now it is multinational corporations’ agenda lobbying against COOL, clearly against America’s farmers’ best interests.