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R-CALF sees opening of MCOOL for beef due to new EV origin requirements

Any resurrection requires at least a little faith.

No one is more confident than R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard for the return of mandatory county origin labeling, or MCOOL, for meat.

MCOOL is popular with many US livestock consumers and producers.

Congress repeated MCOOL in 2015 after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that it harmed Canada and Mexico as a non-tariff trade barrier that would cost the United States billions of dollars.

Bullard sees the recent adoption of the Inflation Reduction Act as a “seismic shift.” He says it moves Congress from “submissive adherence” to a WTO-imposed national trade obligation to the same benefits for imported products as for domestic products.”

According to some bipartisan economic models, the Inflation Reduction Act will not lower prices.

Bullard likes the language in the law that requires a $7,500 import tax credit for “Made in China” electric cars that will only be extended to electric vehicles whose final assembly takes place in North America.

It says it’s a country of origin provision.

“This effectively ends a significant subsidy enjoyed by electric car manufacturers under the jurisdiction of the Communist Party of China,” Bullard said. “Congress has pointedly signaled that it will no longer blindly adhere to outdated international trade rules that are against the best interests of the United States.”

The Billings, MT-based leader of the largest grower-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. livestock producers says Congress has a “new direction” that should pave the way for passage of the American Beef Labeling Act.

That law would require mandatory country of origin labeling or MCOOL for beef. The bipartisan sponsors are Senators John Thune, R-SD, Jon Tester, D-MT, Mike Rounds, D-SD, and Cory Booker, D-NJ.

The Labeling Act reverses Congressional review of MCOOL for beef, fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, and lamb. Bullard said reinstating MCOOL “represents the same audacity to achieve the best interests of the United States that Congress” has now accorded to the nation’s supply of electric cars.

The 2002 and 2008 farm bills required the enactment of MCOOL. Congress in 2009 required labels revealing where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. After Mexico and Canada protested, the WTO ruled against the US over beef. Congress repeated MCOOL in 2015.

“Defending cattle producers is, and always will be, a top priority for us, which is why we have introduced legislation that would provide a path forward for the reinstatement of MCOOl for beef,” said Thune and Tester in a guest editorial for Agri-Pulse, com.

The US Beef Labeling Act would give the US Trade Representative (USTR) six months to come up with a reinstatement plan in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture. If the USTR fails, the law will take effect one year after its passage.

The two main sponsors say they want a “Product of the USA” label on beef that you ‘can trust’.

The full name of R-CALF USA is Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America. It is a national nonprofit organization “dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the United States livestock industry.”

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