BILLINGS, Mont. – The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF) recently launched a grassroots campaign to reinstate mandatory country of origin labels (COOL) on beef products.
R-CALF reported the organization has raised $50,000 as part of a nationwide “Label Our Beef” campaign. R-CALF is urging President Donald Trump to issue an executive order reinstating the rule, which Congress repealed in 2015 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), or Omnibus bill.
“American cattle producers are being harmed by lack of origin labels on beef and this fact was confirmed this summer by a US federal district court,” said Mike Schultz, a Kansas cow-calf operator and chair of the R-CALF USA COOL Committee. “Americans cannot choose to buy American beef unless the mandatory COOL law is restored.”
R-CALF and the Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) sued the US Dept. of Agriculture because imported beef products labeled as made in the USA hurt domestic beef producers. The organizations argued that the Tariff Act of 1930 requires imported beef to bear a country-of-origin label unless the beef is substantially transformed in the US. The federal judge in the case dismissed the lawsuit but not before agreeing with the plaintiffs that ranchers had been harmed by the federal government’s decision to eliminate COOL.
R-CALF launched the fundraising campaign in May. The organization, along with Public Justice, Food & Water Watch and Farm Aid delivered to the US Commerce Dept. and the Trump Administration a petition with 37,299 signatures asking for mandatory COOL to be part of the federal government’s trade policies.
“Three simple words, “Product of USA” is the new metaphorical cash cow,” Schultz said. “When the COOL law was fully implemented from 2013 to 2015, American farmers and ranchers received $325 per calf more compared to the next two years when meat packers were no longer required by law to label beef with its country-of-origin.”