Vilsack: Congress has to Fix COOL

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

vilsack-pressSecretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack came close to losing his cool when a reporter asked him to comment today on the final WTO decision on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

“I don’t know how many times you guys can ask this question, to be honest with you I’m getting a little tired of answering it,” said Vilsack, who was asked about the decision during a press conference related to drought assistance.

“As I’ve said on multiple occasions, Congress has got to fix this problem,” said Vilsack. “We have tried several ways to do this and each time WTO has indicated we haven’t quite figured out how to do it right, so Congress is going to have to respond.”

The secretary was apparently so annoyed by the question that he misspoke twice calling it “County” of Origin, rather than Country.

Vilsack response to COOL ruling
Audio, COOL, usda

Industry Reacts to Final WTO COOL Ruling

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

cool-reform-1In response to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) fourth and final ruling on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for muscle cuts of beef and pork, the COOL Reform Coalition is calling for “immediate congressional intervention” to bring the U.S. into compliance with its trade obligations and avoid the threat of retaliatory action on the part of Mexico and Canada.

“We flaunt our country’s obligations under the rules-based trading system at our peril,” said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy and Co-Chair of the COOL Reform Coalition. “American farmers, workers, and companies will not be able to sell their goods and services to those consumers if we fail to live up to these rules ourselves. Congress must take action now to repeal the COOL rule for meat before retaliation hits as soon as late summer.” Canada has already issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products that would affect every state in the country. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past which may be indicative of future tariff actions.

ncba-200nppc“We have long said that COOL is not just burdensome and costly to cattle producers, it is generally ignored by consumers and violates our international trade obligations,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Philip Ellis of Wyoming. “Now that the WTO has ruled for a fourth time that this rule discriminates against Canadian and Mexican livestock, the next step is retaliation by Canada and Mexico. Retaliation will irreparably harm our economy and our relationships with our top trading partners and send a signal to the world that the U.S. doesn’t play by the rules. It is long past time that Congress repeal this broken regulation.”

“Unless Congress acts now, Canada and Mexico will put tariffs on dozens of U.S. products,” said National Pork Producers Council President Ron Prestage of South Carolina. “I know tariffs would be financially devastating for the U.S. pork industry, and I’m sure they’ll have a negative impact on a host of other agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.”

NFUlogo1The National Farmers Union (NFU) remains supportive of the law and hopeful that all parties can “negotiate an acceptable path forward.”

“As we have seen in other disputes, once decisions are handed down, WTO members often work together to find a solution that will work for them,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In this case, such a solution must involve continuation of a meaningful country-of-origin labeling requirement.”

“Congress may well have a role to play once the administration has worked with our trading partners following today’s decision if a statutory modification is deemed warranted by the administration, but the time for action is not now,” Johnson said.

Beef, COOL, Government, NCBA, NFU, NPPC, Pork

WTO Issues Final COOL Ruling Against U.S.

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

wtoAs expected, the World Trade Organization today issued a final ruling against the United States over Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for livestock and meat products.

The final ruling maintained previous conclusions that “the amended COOL measure increases the record-keeping burden for imported livestock entailed by the original COOL measure.” The Appellate Body rejected U.S. arguments that the conclusions were based on “incorrect hypothetical” scenarios rather than on actual or common trade situations.

The Appellate Body agreed with the panel that the recordkeeping and verification requirements of the amended COOL measure impose a disproportionate burden on producers and processors of livestock that cannot be explained by the need to provide origin information to consumers, and that the exemptions under the amended COOL measure support a conclusion that the detrimental impact of that measure on imported livestock does not stem exclusively from legitimate regulatory distinctions. In this regard, the panel had noted that between 57.7% and 66.7% of beef and between 83.5% and 84.1% of pork muscle cuts consumed in the US convey no consumer information on origin despite imposing an upstream recordkeeping burden on producers and processors that has a detrimental impact on competitive opportunities for imported livestock.

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) has already prepared to announce legislation this week to repeal COOL, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) says he will “consider any solution – including repeal regarding meat – that will allow the United States to be WTO-compliant and avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico.”

Beef, COOL, Government, Livestock, Pork, Trade

Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition Transition Dairy

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

armhammer-lgArm & Hammer Animal Nutrition has new animal health monitoring and management tools to aid in the transition period for dairies.

“We’ve developed an impressive series of detailed ‘how-to’ documents, videos, calculators and other resources to help you and your team implement profitable on-farm solutions,” explains Dr. Neil Michael, global technical services manager for Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition.

“These tools are designed to help producers understand incidence and prevalence of health challenges like subclinical hypocalcaemia or ketosis on their operation, as well as offer proven solutions to boost cow health and performance,” he adds.

Visit and log-in to access these new tools and resources:
– Apps and calculators. These tools enable users to use their own data to determine the impact and benefit of including scientifically proven ingredients that improve cow health and performance. Users also can see how reducing transition health disorders enhances herd productivity on their operation.
– “How-to” documents. Use these step-by-step recommendations to measure, monitor and manage the health and nutrition factors that influence transition period performance.
– Videos. These on-farm visual demonstrations show how to perform key transition period management activities like sampling for BHBAs and performing fresh cow monitoring activities.
– Additional resources. These include customizable SOP templates, presentations, management checklists and product overviews.

Agribusiness, Arm and Hammer, Dairy, Nutrition

Animal Ag Bites

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment


  • Animal Agriculture Alliance announced the addition of two new staff members: Allyson Jones-Brimmer, membership and marketing manager, and Casey Whitaker, communications coordinator.
  • Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition is pleased to announce the addition of Mark Herrman and Mark Martinez to its channel manager team for the central region.
  • The judges have been selected for The 63rd All American Jersey Shows, sponsored by the American Jersey Cattle Association of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
  • Holstein Association USA has named Pineylawn Jasper Bethany as the 2014 Star of the Breed. Bethany is owned by the Mike and Valerie Holschbach family, Heatherstone Enterprises of Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Animal Bites

Defense Bill Passes with ESA Provisions

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

plcLanguage to block the listing of the greater sage grouse passed the House last week as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applaud the House for working to prevent an arbitrary listing that would have significant negative impacts on the West.

“Livestock grazing and wildlife habitat conservation go hand-in-hand, and ranchers have historically proven themselves to be the best stewards of the land,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president and NCBA member. “If sage grouse are designated for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), many ranchers may no longer be permitted to allow livestock to graze on or near sage grouse habitat, habitat which spans across 11 western states and encompasses 186 million acres of both federal and private land. This decision would not only destroy the ranching industry in the west, which is the backbone of many rural communities, it would also halt the conservation efforts currently underway by ranchers.”

ncba-200With many states already effectively managing and conserving the sage grouse populations, the provision written by Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop (R-Utah) also prohibits the federal government from instituting their own management plans on federal lands which go beyond those state plans already in place.

“The state plans that are already in place focus on improving sage grouse habitat, through decisions based on-the-ground where impacts to the bird can be best dealt,” explained Richards, who ranches in Idaho. “Ranchers in particular have consistently lived and operated in harmony with the sage grouse for many decades, and in fact, the core habitat areas are thriving largely due to a long history of well-managed grazing. It is a known fact that livestock grazing is the most cost effective and efficient method of removing fine fuel loads, such as grass, from the range thus preventing wildfire, which is one of the primary threats to the sage grouse. We must allow time for these state plans, orchestrated by folks closest to the land and to the issue at hand, to be fully implemented and to accomplish their goal of protecting this bird.”

Read More

Ag Group, Land, Livestock, NCBA

Time To Become A REBEL With Alltech

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.32.19 AMWho’s ready to be a REBEL? Tomorrow Chuck and I will head to Lexington, KY for Alltech’s REBELation. This once-in-a-lifetime conference is merging science, agriculture, entrepreneurship, business and marketing to inspire and re-engergize lives and businesses.

Keynote speakers will include General Colin Powell, U.S. Army Retired, former United States Secretary of State; John Calipari, Head Coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats; Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of futurethink and Author, Kill the Company and of course, Alltech’s very own Dr. Pearse Lyons, President and founder of Alltech.

Breakout tracks on business, food & beverage and agriculture will bring over 3,000 people from across the globe together to be REBELs and be innovative. Chuck will cover the business side of things and sit on a panel to discuss the “Changing Face of Media.” Some of the questions the panel will tackle include: The end of newspapers? The reemergence of talk radio? Where will consumers get their information? Who will they trust?

And I get to cover all the happenings on the agriculture track. I will be focusing on the animal side of things attending sessions on beef, dairy, poultry, pork and maybe even aquaculture.

The world-class lineup of speakers will keep us busy, but we will bring you all the highlights via audio and a ton of photos. Follow #REBELation and @AgWired, @AnimalAgNews, @AgriBlogger or @MyLifeNtheHills on Twitter and AgWired and Animal.AgWired’s Facebook pages to keep up with it all.

Agribusiness, Alltech, Events, Marketing

Proactive Management of Undercover Videos

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

aaa-15-135-editedDr. Helen Wojcinski, DVM DVSc ACPV, Science & Sustainability Manager, Hybrid Turkeys, provided a case study on how they proactively managed an undercover video at the recent Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit.

“We always want to make sure we have good animal welfare programs in place, commitment of senior managers and engagement of employees so they understand what it means. Training is very important and also the transparency with our customers and consumers through audits and sharing with them what our practices are.”

Helen also said we need to really “emphasize that we are always looking for better ways. Things that are better for our animals and better for our people.”

“One thing we had to sit back and realize was it that it wasn’t MFA hitting Hybrid or specifically the turkey industry. They really focused on all of animal agriculture across Canada in order to share their messaging of there being a lack of governmental control in the welfare of animals.”

Listen to my complete interview with Helen to hear more about what Hybrid did to combat animal activists and what they learned in the process: Interview with Dr. Helen Wojcinski, Hybrid Turkey

Find photos from the event here: 2015 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit Photo Album

Coverage of the Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by
Coverage of the Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health
Ag Group, Animal Ag Alliance, Animal Welfare, Audio

Enter to Win Lease on New Holland Roll-Belt Round Baler

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

New Holland 1st CutHave you made your 1st cut of hay? About to, weather permitting? Consider entering the New Holland 1st Cut Competition. Following a successful Voice of the Next Gen contest New Holland has launched a new online promotion.

To enter, upload a picture of YOUR first cutting at The prize is a FREE one-year lease of a genuine Roll-Belt round baler.

New Holland is the undisputed leader in hay tools and now, the Gold Standard has been raised. To New Holland, SMART means smooth, clean cutting with faster dry down and plug-free conditioning. The competition ends July 31st.

Rule here.

View and Vote here.

Agribusiness, contest, Hay, New Holland

Policy Influencers Learn About Antibiotic Use

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ncba-200The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has focused efforts on continuing educational on the use of antibiotics in the cattle industry. On Capitol Hill, staffers gathered to hear from Dr. Guy Loneragan, veterinary epidemiologist and professor of Food Safety and Public Health and at Texas Tech University, as part of NCBA’s “Beef 101″ educational series. NCBA also hosted another FDA staff college this week in which Dr. Loneragan shared updates on some of his research pertaining to antimicrobial resistance.

Cattle producers understand the importance of having effective antibiotics years down the road, work hand-in-hand with veterinarians, and utilize programs like Beef Quality Assurance to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics. Education remains a top priority for NCBA. Bringing producers and industry experts to D.C. is one of the most influential ways grassroots members can be involved in the policy process and help bring a face to issues to make them more relatable. It is important we have a balanced, scientific discussion on the complex issue of antimicrobial resistance.

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 9.04.42 AMWhen looking at the use of antibiotics, it is critically important to weigh the societal benefits of the use along with the societal risks. Loneragan’s research is based upon preserving the efficacy of antibiotics into the future to protect human and animal health. Loneragan believes that the path forward involves a critical balance of the risks and benefits. But he also believes the industry should continue efforts to discover, develop and implement innovative production practices, research, and technologies ensure the efficacy of antibiotics. Strategic approaches are critical, he said; cutting all antibiotic use in livestock can and will have serious unintended consequences on animal health and welfare.

NCBA will remain engaged to ensure a balanced conversation to ensure that sound science will be utilized in decisions regarding antibiotic uses. American cattle producers prioritize maintaining a healthy herd, which is the cornerstone to providing the safest, most affordable beef supply in the world. Allowing industry experts and grassroots members to present their knowledge and experience makes the strongest impression in D.C. For more than five years, NCBA has been working to educate Capitol Hill and federal agencies about the beef industry. Loneragan is one of several experts NCBA has invited inside the beltway for the Beef 101’s and the FDA staff briefings. NCBA has utilized these opportunities to educate about the Beef Quality Assurance Program, the different sectors of the beef industry, and the latest research.

NCBA will continue to take every opportunity to educate policy staff to share the diversity of America’s cattle industry.

Ag Group, Animal Health, Beef, Cattle, Government, NCBA