WHERE IS THE BEEF?

Written on:August 12, 2014
 
Comments
Add One

“The Segregation Cost Arguments Do Not Hold Water”

By: J. Dudley Butler

Some opponents of COOL seem to use the term commingling as a synonym for segregation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meat is commingled. Cattle are segregated. COOL does not deal with live animals. It deals with the sale of commodities such as beef and pork at the retail level.

The COOL statue does not allow commingling of covered retail products. The use of commingling is factually misleading, legally illegitimate, and rhetorically repulsive. Commingling breeds consumer confusion and deception. It only takes common sense to recognize that any commingling of meat that is required to be labeled by the COOL statute is an affront to the intent of the statute. The statute was designed to inform consumers about the origin of the animal from which the product comes. The terms “born”, “raised” and “slaughtered” are very significant to the intent of the COOL statute.Therefore the COOL Rule does not allow comingling so that the consumer is accurately informed of where the animal from which the retail product was derived was born, raised and slaughtered.

COOL does not compel the segregation of cattle. However, Canada and Mexico have continued to base their WTO arguments on the costs associated with segregation of cattle or the fact that sometimes prices paid for cattle of Canadian and Mexican origin are discounted. They do this with the hope that the WTO panel will buy into their charade and issue another ruling in their favor. They know they fooled them once so why not try it again?

However, any discounts are really marketplace issues brought on by the nuances of consumers or grow out of the concentrated power of meatpackers. Contrary to the previous arguments of the opponents of COOL, all cattle are not the same. So their statement “that cattle are cattle whether they are from Manitoba, Mazatlán or Montana” is not only ludicrous but down right slanderous to U. S. cattle producers. Cattle are different and this is one of the reasons that cattle have been segregated for years. Segregation of cattle did not start with the COOL statute. Neither the COOL statute nor the 2013 COOL regulation requires segregation of cattle.

Cattle are purchased by different methods. The majority (approximately 60%) of all cattle purchased by meatpackers that are required to report to the USDA Packers and Stockyards Program are purchased on a carcass basis and carcass-based purchases are the predominant method used by meatpackers to purchase hogs. Therefore, with or without COOL, meatpackers must continue segregating the majority of all their cattle purchases and hog purchases based on each animal’s (both cattle and hogs) owner in order to finalize the purchase transactions for those livestock.1

Segregation is also used for many other reasons. In fact, the segregation of cattle is a common practice in the industry. Cattle entering the U. S. from Canada are either branded or tattooed with a “CAN”. Cattle from Mexico are either branded or tattooed with an “M”. They are easily recognizable. Additionally, cattle are segregated for the following reasons:

Branded programs such as “All Natural”, “Organic” and “Certified Angus Beef”
- For export eligibility
- National School Lunch Program
- Department of Defense Prime Vendor Program
- Age and source verified programs
- USDA quality grading

For paying sellers that sell on grade and yield basis
- Illness
- Size
- Weight
- Breed vs. cross breed
- Brahman influence,
- Gainability
- Sex
Quarantine (Mexico) – to check for brucellosis, tuberculosis and spayedheifers.

Meatpackers already have very sophisticated and computerized tracking systems that allow them to track meat throughout their plants, freezers and shipping facilities. This is done to ensure proper payment, customer satisfaction, quality control and proper delivery of goods and services.1

There is no causal connection between the Final COOL Rule and any damages caused by the costs of segregation. Any claims of discrimination, irreparable harm and undue burdens dealing with discounts paid for Canadian cattle and Mexican cattle are not caused by COOL but are caused by several things. One cause can behistory of disease problems in certain countries.3

They can also be caused by consumer choices based on personal preferences, the breed of cattle, prior food sources, lower yield and lower beef quality just to name a few. They are also causedby corporate concentration and the inherent power of meatpackers in the marketplace accompanied by their greed.In other words, they have the power to do it so they do it.

The costs associated with COOL are less than one half cent per pound of beef produced. Therefore, any claims of undue burdens dealing with excessive costs required to comply with the 2013 COOL regulation are unfounded and lean toward speciousness.

Or as we would say down south “that dog just won’t hunt.”


1 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) explains:
In a “carcass-based” purchase, the price is quoted and the final payment is determined based on each animal’s hot weight, which is the weight of the carcass after it has been slaughtered and eviscerated. Carcass-based purchase methods often involve schedules of premiums or discounts based on animal quality and other features, such as time of delivery and number of animals in the transaction.
2012 Annual Report, Packers and Stockyards Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, at 36, available at http://www.gipsa.usda.gov/Publications/psp/ar/2012_psp_annual_report.pdf.

2 Available technology now enables a meat hook to associate every carcass and resulting meat product with the live animal from which they are derived all the way to an individual packaged meat product, ready to be sold at a supermarket. Today’s plant can also record important information about each carcass, like its weight and grade, which can be tied to billing and sales systems. http://www.xerafy.com/blog/wheres-the-beef-rfid-tracking-within-slaughterhouses/

An amazing part of this story is the fact that every pound of beef can be tracked throughout the meatpacking plant, from steer to box and package. Implicit in this part of the story is the information system. Besides tracking the product throughout the facility, the plant IT manages the inventory management of every by-product from hides to bone. http://www.cisco-eagle.com/case-studies/Excel-Beef-Dodge-City-KS

3 Canada has a history of problems with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) and Mexico has a history of problems with Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis.


Breakwater Cattle Company’s Letter to President: Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

Written on:August 11, 2014
 
Breakwater Cattle Company’s Letter to President: Protecting Taxpayer Dollars

PRESS RELEASE BREAKWATER CATTLE COMPANY 499 Breakwater Drive Benton, MS 39039 August 4, 2014 United States President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500 Re: Protecting Taxpayer Dollars Dear Mr. President I know we can agree that there are seven continents, and North America is one of them. North America includes 41 separate countries and territories. I also know there are embedded within USDA certain…

Read more...

Two Dot Ranch – ID. Great Ranches of the West ~ $35

Written on:August 1, 2014
 
photo_TwoDot_ID_2

“James Whittaker’s family has been here since 1915, when his grandfather carved out a ranch in this wilderness. As a teenager, James’ father, Floyd, ran a twenty-mile trap line for beaver, bobcats, and coyotes high in the mountains above the ranch. He used the money he made from selling pelts to buy more land and continued to buy property before and after the Great Depression. Each purchase enhanced the ability…

Read more...

The End of the Trail for Family Ranchers: Lunch with Louden 7/31/2014

Written on:August 1, 2014
 
The End of the Trail for Family Ranchers: Lunch with Louden 7/31/2014

New Politics Podcasts with Coffee Party USA on BlogTalkRadio Do you ever feel like you are not getting the whole story? If you are like me, you can look to your own life situation and know that “the news” often omits important elements that might well change how others perceive the situation. Whether the information is incomplete by oversight or design, it is time for our media to raise the…

Read more...

Special Report: The End of the Trail – How Government Destroyed Free Markets for Family Ranchers

Written on:July 23, 2014
 
greatrancheswest

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s inaction has led to the near-destruction of American family ranchers. Over 17,000 family ranches will disappear this year. Over 100,000 family ranchers have left the profession since 2009. It’s a tragedy as world-renowned American beef experiences record-high prices, grocery retailers seize increasing shares of beef dollars, meat packers manipulate the beef market and prices paid to ranchers, and the ranchers are denied the rewards resulting…

Read more...

Missouri Amendment One; An Easier Road to Multinational Corporate Food Takeover

Written on:July 3, 2014
 
Maxwell

“This is our constitution, corporations stay out!” – Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell For Immediate Release: During their August 5th primary election, in addition to selecting candidates for the November election, Missouri voters will decide whether or not the so called right to farm and ranch shall be inserted into their state constitution. OCM urges Missourians to vote no on Amendment One. OCM is distressed by such narrowly defined and clearly…

Read more...

Confronting The Lie: Open Letter to Steve Dittmer

Written on:June 24, 2014
 
dudleybutler

June 24, 2014 Dear Mr. Dittmer, After reading Mike Callicrate’s article about you in the OCM newsletter, I feel compelled to respond to your recent blog about me and the good hardworking employees at GIPSA that I was honored to lead. Two old sayings come to mind when dealing with you. First is “a wise man has something to say and a fool just has to say something”. The other…

Read more...

Farmers in America have a saying: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”.

Written on:June 16, 2014
 
Cookbook_Chef

Mid-sized farmers are stuck in the middle – too conventional and “toxic” for the foodies, too small to matter to Big Ag corporations. How do you participate in the food debate without becoming part of the menu? Or, with friends like these, who needs aliens? By Richard Oswald Farmers in America have a saying. “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” This reminds me of a Twilight…

Read more...