Consumers notice it every time they’ve visit their local grocery store. Prices for meat, specifically beef have increased quite a bit over the past couple of years.

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But where is that money going?

Tom Sharp, President of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said consumers need to know those extra dollars they’re paying are not making it into the pockets of ranchers.

“Those profits have largely gone solely to the major beef packing companies that dominate boxed beef production here in the United States.  There’s really four multinational companies that produce 83% of the total boxed beef for retail consumption here in the United States.”

Sharp said that’s why so many in the industry support federal or state legislation to increase the numbers of small to medium sized packing plants.

Another key issue facing the cattle industry is discussion of a return to MCOOL, or Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling. While struck down years ago by the World Trade Organization for being anticompetitive toward Canadian and Mexico productions, Sharp said consumers deserve some form of COOL, so they understand from where their food comes. Sharp added that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has expressed his interest in a potential return of MCOOL.

“And if WTO laws can be accommodated in a mandatory COOL process, our Secretary of Agriculture is open minded to reinstating mandatory COOL.”

Sharp said until the WTO issue can be resolved, the OCA supports a voluntary form of Country of Origin Labeling.




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