COOL Amendment Could Affect Overall Beef Demand

The issue of Country of Origin Labeling or COOL seems endless, and just last week, USDA released another set of proposed amendments to current COOL rules in an effort to bring the US into compliance with WTO agreements. Executive Director of NC Cattlemen’s Association Bryan Blinson gives a thumbnail sketch:

“It seems as though there is going to be more consciousness put on not mixing cuts from different animals. It would appear that the burden is going to be much more on making the product comply with this rule and the challenge that we want to avoid is that the product doesn’t become more expensive than it needs to with the burden on either the processors or the farmers and ultimately the consumers.”
 

USDA went on to say that the cost could be as high as $48 million dollars. Needless to say this amendment has evoked some controversy. Blinson…

“It has been controversial on a national level. We are all supportive of buying products that were raised in NC and the US, but one of the challenges with complying with this rule, is that we are in a global market and the increased burden on labeling and processing for the beef enterprise.”
 

And of course, as Blinson explains, the goal is to make all this happen in such a way so as not to turn away international customers due to price inflation:
 

“The understanding that we also need to maintain our export markets and the way we handle this needs to be done in such a way that the countries that purchase beef from us are still comfortable in doing so.”
 

Blinson explains that repercussions to North Carolina’s cattle industry would be indirect:
 

“It may not be as big an issue locally because we don’t have a lot of finished beef processing here in NC, but where the effect would be for our farmers is if the product does become more expensive because of the way the rule is carried out, it could damage demands.”
 

The comment period closes on April 11th, and NC Cattlemen’s will be involved in comments.


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