It makes headlines and sells newspapers, it’s the lead story on the radio, the internet … controversy seems to be everywhere we turn.
I got a question the other day from one of my American friends, asking me where I stood on the issue of the “COOL” law and its current repeal in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As I said to her, … I usually don’t like to comment on controversial or political topics … ESPECIALLY “Hot Button” topics like this one, because they are usually FRAUGHT with danger but, I also think a little bit of clarification is due on this one. I hope I’m not opening a HUGE can of worms …
To start with, I’m pleased that bipartisan support, from BOTH sides of the house voted to repeal this law but, let’s take a look at the issues shall we?
Ok, … for those of you who didn’t know, “COOL” is an acronym meaning, “Country Of Origin Labeling” and it was enacted in 2013 as a result of American ranchers to the north, who worried about competition from their Canadian counterparts across the border.
Initially, this labeling was supposed to indicate to the consumer where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, with the thinly veiled idea that it promoted food safety.
The truth is that inspection and food safety measures have ALWAYS been in place, and will continue to go on, with or without this law and … these new labels have absolutely nothing, NOTHING to do with it. Food safety, that is.
Now, … here’s the REAL problem:
As a result of all of this, Canada and Mexico have threatened heavy tariffs (on ALL sorts of exports) as a retaliation, unless this law is repealed. That could potentially cost the U.S. BILLIONS in industry losses.
The two BIGGEST agricultural trading partners the States have are Canada and Mexico, and by enacting this new labeling law it forces the agricultural producers to the North and South to segregate their animals from those of U.S. origin, thereby increasing the overhead on some already very tight margins. THIS in turn, has resulted in very costly increases for U.S. producers, who simply stopped buying exported beef.
Because of this, a ripple effect has been seen in the form of American job losses and, as the President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Mr. Philip Ellis (who is a cattleman himself) recently said:
“COOL has been without benefits to the U.S. cattle industry and producers like myself, and now with retaliation imminent from our largest trading partners, it is time this legislation is repealed. There is no other fix that can be put in place to bring value to this program or satisfy our trading partners.”
Supporters of this law say that it keeps consumers safe from food borne illnesses, and consumers have a right to know where their food comes from. Conversely, opponents say it’s nothing more than protectionism that complicates the process of importing meat products, with no tangible food safety or inspection benefits.
One final thought:
I’m ALL about food safety but … if food safety was such an issue, wouldn’t you think restaurants would have to label ALL the meat on their menus? Truth is they don’t … just like they don’t have to put caloric, or sodium content on them either … for now.
I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming and THANKS Auntiedoni for this one. 🙂
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