USCA (June 25, 2015) - United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) Director Emeritus Leo McDonnell testified today before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee during a hearing titled, "Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Trade Retaliation: What's at Stake for America's Farmers, Ranchers, Businesses, and Consumers.” McDonnell’s statements were the sole testimony provided at the hearing supporting COOL.
Representatives from USCA, the North American Meat Institute, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Kansas Livestock Association, New York Wine & Grape Foundation and Archer Daniels Midland Company comprised the panel of witnesses convened to assess the current state of country of origin labeling (COOL) following the recent WTO decision and House action.
McDonnell's testimony represented cattle producers from across the country as he recounted his life's work in developing his own registered Angus herd in addition to building what has become the largest genetically tested bull development and bull sale in North America, Midland Bull Test. Leo's work is a testament to the pride and ownership felt by U.S. producers in establishing the right to promote and distinguish their product in the marketplace.
McDonnell stated, "Since the late 1980’s ranchers have been told that they need to be prepared to compete in the growing global marketplace. Without question, being able to differentiate our product is fundamental to competing on a global scale. COOL provides a mechanism by which to do just that."
"As proven by the recent action on trade, the global market will continue to grow for both U.S. producers and those abroad. The rise in imports from across the globe and the ability to promote our products overseas necessitates a high-integrity labeling system to appeal to a growing consumer demand for complete transparency. Our industry has an opportunity, through COOL, to take a step forward in providing such information. Any action to repeal the program entirely is truly a loss for both producers and consumers.”
McDonnell focused a large portion of his testimony on the need to maintain the integrity of the COOL law, specifically the "A” label. "Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and many of the members on the committee have long been champions of COOL. Just yesterday, Ranking Member Stabenow introduced a draft bill designed to present a better pathway forward on COOL rather than a full repeal. We must consider all options with COOL in order to maintain the original intent of Congress and the original intent of the program. A full repeal by Congress at this time is a lose-lose situation for the industry and our consumers and we will continue to oppose this approach."
“Multiple WTO decisions and legal rulings by U.S. courts have deemed COOL as valid in its original intent, which is to provide origin information and greater transparency to consumers. It is unfortunate that today we are forced to fight to maintain the integrity of the Product of the U.S. label. Distinguishing a product of exclusive U.S. origin should be an inherent right for U.S. cattle producers. USCA will support those efforts as we move forward in order to ensure this distinction is not lost.”