COOL – The right to label


Looking back over 100+ years of family farm history, attitude, sympathetic lenders, luck, and most of all family relationships are what average farmers rely on for their survival.

Corporate partnerships don’t have much to offer us.

In governments eyes, bigger has always been better–even when bigger meant corporate control, more pollution, less competition, and higher costs. Realistically, even though US agriculture seems a national icon, corporations, some native to foreign countries, are replacing people like me.

They couldn’t do it without help from Judas goats and a few elected officials.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute, two organizations with very American sounding names, opposed labeling US origin meat and poultry because their largest dues paying members aren’t family farm and ranch cattlemen at all, but multinational meat packer corporations.

During recent farm bill negotiations, disaster assistance for US beef producers hit hard by weather was held hostage by Congressional lobbyists in an effort to kill Country of Origin Labeling known as COOL.

If you’re a packer there are plenty of reasons for burying COOL. Cheap supplies of beef in one place represent high profit margins in another. The recent recall of 9 million pounds of beef by a California processor reveals that adulteration is the key. Something that can’t be sold one place can be blended into marketable products shipped far and wide to other places.

Heaven forbid, if there’s contamination, the culture of non-inspection means no recalls until dangerous products are consumed by the innocent public. Now multiply that from national to one on a world wide order to see how risk equals reward on a global scale.

Let the buyers beware.

Those of us who remain on the farm can claim family traditions. But the fact is that corporate sponsored farm bill mischief and politics hasten our demise. Rural populations are falling. Family farms aren’t far from extinction. In order to have identity, family farmers must have identifiable products. Denying us the right to label our safe, wholesome, home grown food would deny not only who we are, but our very existence.

To the public, it also denies their best food choice.

Here in America where agriculture has always been the mainstay, we are no strangers to big food. Traditional livestock growing regions are two sides of the same coin as family farm cattle herds graze within feet of massive corporate poultry and hog confinements.

Most of those livestock confinements are certainly controlled by the same meat packers who would have denied us the right to label our products.

Some say we can never return to the days when family farms produced the bulk of what we eat. That will be true so long as Americans continue to elect those who favor the politics of big food.

Update: Retailer List Expands in 9-Million-Pound Beef Recall

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