Groups Take on Meatpacking Industry to Defend Country of Origin Labeling
Four groups representing farmers, ranchers, rural communities and consumers filed court papers on Friday, to defend mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) from a spurious lawsuit filed by the meatpacking industry. R-CALF USA, Food & Water Watch, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA) and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) petitioned the court to allow them to intervene and defend COOL.
Country of Origin Labeling was included in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, but it has been under constant attack from domestic and foreign meatpackers that do not want consumers to know where their food is from and do not want to pay American farmers and ranchers a fair price for their livestock.
“Our interest is in preserving COOL for generations to come,” said Silvia Christen, SDSGA executive director. “The COOL regulation that requires the meat labels to list each country where livestock was born, raised and harvested benefits U.S. cattle and sheep producers who can differentiate and promote American born and raised livestock in an increasingly international supermarket meat case.”
The meatpackers allege in their lawsuit that the final 2013 COOL rules violate their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech, that the labels were not specifically authorized by the Farm Bill and that COOL labels provide no benefit to consumers.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
“The meatpackers are demanding a first amendment right to deceive consumers by insisting on vague and misleading labels that do not let consumers choose all-American beef, pork and lamb products,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Consumers overwhelmingly support, use and deserve Country of Origin Labeling because they want to know the source of the food they are feeding their families.”
The meatpackers’ filed their lawsuit to prevent the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing the final 2013 COOL rules, which requires muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb and goat meat to display where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered and prohibits the confusing “commingled” mixed-origin label that has allowed meat from all-American born and raised livestock to be labeled as if it were a product of multiple countries, like “Product of USA, Canada” or “Product of Mexico, USA.
“Retaining the USDA’s 2013 rules as law of the land will ensure that a U.S. label stands for family tradition, quality, pride and a safe and wholesome product by allowing consumers to truly know when a product is born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.,” said Wilma Tope, a rancher for 30 years near Aladdin, WY, who submitted an affidavit in the suit and is a member of the WORC affiliate, the Powder River Basin Resource Council.
The meatpacker alliance that filed the suit against USDA’s 2013 COOL rules included nine trade associations, including one Mexican and two Canadian livestock-producer groups as well as six domestic meatpacker or meatpacker-producer groups. Tomorrow, the meatpackers will argue for a preliminary injunction to immediately prohibit the new COOL rules from going into effect.
“Marketplace competition can no longer occur without COOL,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, “In this global market, more imports from more countries are entering the U.S. each year and foreign meatpackers are trying to capture market share away from U.S. family farmers and ranchers. COOL allows U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers to highlight their product to U.S. consumers whom we believe will choose our exclusively U.S. produced product if they can identify it in the market."
"That’s what this fight is all about: farmer and ranchers want competition while the meatpackers and their allies want to control the market,” Bullard concluded.
Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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