More and more voices in the livestock industry are calling for a return to Country of Origin Labeling.
Idaho Cattle Association Executive Vice President Cameron Mulrony said their policy supports a voluntary COOL program in the state, saying, “So, we are supporting of COOL options, not mandatory COOL options, but COOL options that are producer-driven and create value in our food chain. I think that’s good for the entire beef industry.”
The Idaho Cattle Association, Mulrony noted, is opposed to government mandated COOL options because they feel it would hamper the margins of cow/calf producers.
According to Mulrony, when there is a government mandate a cost is added to oversee that program. In the cattle industry, that expense always trickles down to the cow/calf producer anytime there is a cost anywhere in the chain. The importance of not misleading consumers when it comes to labeling highlights another important issue with COOL.
When a product such as beef adds a label and becomes a value-added product, the story behind that label is what is supporting that additional value. Mulroney goes on to say, “If you remember back, if you read that label it said, ‘This could be a product of…’ and it listed every nation that could be in a hamburger. That didn’t seem to be beneficial.”
Mulrony added that he thinks consumers are responding positively to beef products with COOL options, a view that is supported by the emergence of many niche markets within the beef industry.