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CONTACT: Linda Wuebben, 402-357-3778 or Louis Day, 402-376-1538

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 3, 2008


ICON Comments from CEO Day: Concerning the COOL Labeling... or Lack of it

Which items do the following three labels pertain to: steak or underwear? ‘Made in the USA,’ Made in Honduras of USA fabric,’ or Assembled in Dominican Republic.’ For those of you that think all three are underwear labels – good job!

Is it not ironic that for years now, we as U.S. consumers have had the right to know so much about our underwear, but have had to fight tooth and nail since the 2002 Farm Bill to know where our beef products actually come from? Well, even after Sept. 30, 2008, we still don’t have that right thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) clever loophole given to the large beef processors. In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress gave specific orders to the USDA that beef products from USA-born, raised and harvested cattle must be labeled as such, and all other products must be labeled according to the country or origin. This is known as country-of-origin labeling, or COOL. Unfortunately, in writing the Interim Final Rule (IFR), USDA left the large processors a loophole that if they (the processor) harvested even ONE animal of foreign origin that day, they could label the whole day’s run a ‘product of mixed origin’! (Example: Product of Canada, Mexico and the United States.)

For years now, it has frustrated and angered many of us who are independent cattle producers that we are being forced to pay for and promote a generic product while you as a consumer are being misled by advertising labels in hopes you will believe you are buying local products. You are not alone! Producers are being misled about how prices and production numbers are presented by USDA reports covering up packers’ use of imports to control supply – thus controlling cash-negotiated costs.

We, as cattle producers, have been told that you, as a consumer, only are concerned with cost, and you don’t really care where your food is raised and processed. If that’s true, then this letter is of no value, but I personally believe you know, or should know, many products banned from our use here in the U.S. due to those strict standards are still legal for use in the countries we import from on a daily basis! The record high costs of foreign-produced oil, as well as control of that supply, and all the tainted and recalled products ranging from deadly pet food to lead-painted toys p coupled with the USDA’s proven poor record from import inspection, has raised consumers’ awareness that a safe and secure, home-grown food supply not only makes good sense, but it a nationally security issue as well.

We will never be the cheapest producers. Our labor, fuel, feed, land and living costs will not allow us to be. Many ranchers in my area can have 10-cents a pound, or higher, tax costs alone to produce a 500-pound calf. But we are proud of the high quality product we raise to the best of our ability here in the United States.

If you are more concerned about the origin of your underwear than your food sources, so be it. Here in the United State you have that right. But we also have the right to demand that our national and state representatives and our government agencies do their jobs just as we do everyday – or risk losing their jobs!

The laws and regulations already are in place to make COOL simple, if only they would be enforced. All live cattle from Canada and Mexico must be marketed with a permanent ‘CAN’ or ‘M’ for health regulations when imported. Imported processed beef products must have a country-of-origin on the box to get its USDA Inspection stamp. Live cattle from other foreign countries can be removed from the ‘J List’ and receive a permanent marking to show they’re imported. The same process that records every box shipped to the retailer because of E-coli concerns also can be used to show origin, if only the packer and wholesaler will pass along the information.

You and I, as producers and consumers, have a great responsibility and opportunity in the outcome of this matter. We told Congress that we wanted the right to be informed. Congress then told the USDA what its job was in writing and enforcing the rules. USDA then slapped all of us in the face by refusing to do so.

To make a difference, we need your help. Our representatives in Congress have the constitutional authority and responsibility to start withholding USDA funding and job security. We have the right to hire and fire those representatives! Also, as consumers, we have the right to ask our local food suppliers for the ability to choose USA-born, raised and harvested food for our families.

Hey, wouldn’t it be COOL if something as simple as steak or underwear would make us, as consumers and producers, realize that what we allow or tolerate is the key to the following weeks, months and year of this Democratic Republic?

May the good Lord continue to give us direction and courage as He did for our founding fathers.

Louis Day, ICON CEO

R-CALF USA Nebraska Membership Chair


About the author: Louis Day is a rancher from Valentine, Nebraska. Mr. Day is the CEO and a Director for the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska. For more information about the author or the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska please call Louis Day or log on to

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
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The Mission of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) is to protect and promote the interests of Nebraska's
independent cattle producers. Office of the Organization is located in Hyannis, Nebraska and membership can be obtained by calling (308) 458-7282.