Amarillo, TX - What country your meat comes from will no longer be required on label packaging and could impact prices at the grocery store.
Friday area beef producers celebrated the repeal of the country of origin labeling law, known as COOL. The law was a marketing strategy to improve the image of homegrown U.S. beef that required meat packaging to indicate where livestock was born, raised and slaughtered.
For nearly a decade, local rancher Jay O'Brien has been segregating his cattle based on what country they came from. It's a process that has cost the beef industry around $8 billion since COOL went into effect. "It's been needless expense for handling beef, which we really haven't needed," said O'Brien.
"We've had to keep those cattle separate and keep them all segregated all the way through all aspects from importation to harvest," explained Texas Cattle Feeders Association Chairman-elect Jim Lovell. "Now we can co-mingle those cattle. It will streamline our process and should make it more efficient."
That efficiency is expected to reduce beef prices for consumers. "Beef will be cheaper and it will be happening at a time when we're already increasing our cattle numbers," said O'Brien. "Beef is going to be a better bargain at the food store."
The repeal of COOL will also save U.S. producers from paying more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs to Mexico and Canada. Just last week, the World Trade Organization ruled the COOL labeling discriminated against Canadian and Mexican beef and authorized the countries to charge the tariffs. Now those tariffs will go away.
"Now we will be able to trade in a better way with Mexico. We'll be able to import their calves, we'll be able to grow them on our grass, on our wheat. We'll be able to take them to feed yards and then we will be able to sell this good, quality product to the American consumer," said O'Brien.
Not everyone is on board with doing away with the labeling. According to the National Farmers Union, "Without this in law, U.S. consumers will once again be deliberately deceived at the grocery store and U.S. ranchers will be left without an option to adequately distinguish their product."
The Texas Cattle Feeders Association said removing the labeling will not change the quality of beef provided to area consumers, it will just save them money at the grocery store.
Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10