A flag has been tossed....again....and the ref has blown his whistle....again. All that remains is the short time it will take him to turn on the public address system and make the same announcement he made the last time the same illegal play was called. No, I'm not talking about 'Bama vs Auburn or Oklahoma State vs Oklahoma. In some quarters, this call will be even more contentious and controversial than the "Swindle in the Swamp," that notorious Florida/Florida State game in 2003 that still has the Gator nation gnashing its teeth.
In January, the always fiery Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA's Chief Executive Officer, showed his teeth. While speaking for an ad hoc amalgamation of 98 industry and public organizations, he said they would give no quarter on the COOL controversy. In a letter to the farm bill committee, he wrote, “The widespread reports circulating on Capitol Hill indicated that the USTR was capitulating to the pressures by COOL opponents, primarily the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and their transnational meatpacker allies, to weaken, if not eliminate COOL”
The letter insisted that consumers and farmers overwhelmingly supported the original COOL rule requiring retailers to tell consumers where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. The mobility of the North American cattle herd, though, makes for some very complicated record keeping and confusing labeling.
But Bullard's rant was for naught. The World Trade Organization (WTO) again ruled against the U.S. in a trade dispute with Canada and Mexico over country-of-origin labeling for meat products, according to the Wall Street Journal's secret sources.
The WTO has whispered its decision to the participating nations. All that is left is for a formal public announcement sometime next month, blinding speed for an organization that first undertook hearings on this trade dispute in 2008. The Journal's sources whispered that the WTO has decided the new U.S. rules to place mandatory labels on meat packages identifying where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered were just as unfair as the original rules.
James Hodges, American Meat Institute president and chief executive officer, said the final ruling “comes as no surprise.” He said the U.S. will have the option to appeal but encouraged USDA to work with the industry and Congress to amend the COOL statute so that it complies with international obligations.
“Such a change would help restore strong relationships with some of our largest and most important trading partners,” he said. “USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meat packers and processors, it does not bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations.”