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  • RuralRebel 12:30 pm on March 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    USDA meat-labeling rules stir backlash 


    A butcher looks at several cuts of meat at a grocery store. (AP)
    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is facing a backlash from small livestock producers and others over its move to tighten meat-labeling regulations, which would force them to separate animals based on where they were born, raised and slaughtered.
    The step is being billed as a way to bring the U.S. into compliance with World Trade Organization agreements, but there are a growing number in the industry who argue it will alienate the country’s trading partners and force small American meat farms out of business.
    “Only the government could take a costly, cumbersome rule like mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) and make it worse even as it claims to ‘fix it,’’ said American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle.
    Boyle believes the proposed rule will make the current requirements even more expensive, onerous and disruptive.
    The Department of Agriculture recently proposed the new rule for labeling muscle cuts of meat. That means beef, veal, lamb, pork, goat and chicken — which are now labeled as simply a product of one country or more — will have to include additional details including where each animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
    The new labeling regulations would force thousands of meat processors and retailers to change the way they label products. The USDA estimates the initial cost would range between $17 million and $48 million.
    The USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service began working on a rule change after the U.S. partially lost a WTO appeal in 2012. “The USDA expects that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the current mandatory (country of origin labeling) requirements into compliance with the U.S. international trade obligations,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
    The National Farmers Union praised the rule change as an “excellent response.”
    “By requiring further clarity in labels and stronger record-keeping, the set of rules released are a win-win for farmers, ranchers and consumers,” NFU President Roger Johnson said.
    But not everyone agrees, including officials on the northern side of the border with whom the U.S. does considerable business.
    “The proposed changes will increase the discrimination against exports of cattle and hogs from Canada and increase damages to Canadian industry,” Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a statement.
    Many U.S. meat-packing plants, especially those near the U.S.-Canada border, have stopped accepting Canadian livestock or bought less due to the increased costs of segregating animals by domestic and foreign origin.
    U.S. companies that have been big buyers of Canadian animals and would be the most affected by the rule change are Tyson Foods, Cargill Inc. and Smithfield Foods.
    The United States has until May 23 to redesign its country-of-origin rules to satisfy the WTO ruling. The USDA is encouraging public feedback and has a section of their site dedicated to hearing what the public says. After the comment period for the proposed rule closes on April 11, the USDA will review all comments before proceeding with a final rule.
    Both Canada and Mexico successfully argued the 2008 labeling law discriminated against their livestock and meat exports. The Obama administration said it would comply with the trade ruling.
    In a statement late Friday, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said his government was “extremely disappointed” with the U.S. proposal.
    “We do not believe that the proposed changes will bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations,” Ritz said.
    Country of origin labels, referred to as COOL, became mandatory in March 2009 after years of debate. Some U.S. farm and consumer groups said the labels would help shoppers make informed decisions, but meat packers and livestock groups termed the labels a costly paperwork headache.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/12/slaughtered-in-usa-country-set-to-change-meat-labeling-rule/#ixzz2NQFD4RiQ

  • RuralRebel 12:21 pm on March 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    What we ought to be asking gay marriage advocates 

    By Cal Thomas
    Published March 12, 2013


    Given his track record on marital fidelity, former President Bill Clinton is not the person I would consult about “committed, loving relationships.” Clinton used those words in a Washington Post op-ed last week, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, which he signed into law.
    In his column, Clinton said that 1996 “was a very different time.” No state recognized same-sex marriage and supporters of DOMA “believed that its passage ‘would diffuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.'” Clinton says he now supports same-sex marriage based on justice, equality and the Constitution.
    All of the arguments for and against same-sex marriage have been heard and will be heard again on March 26 and 27 when lawyers on both sides of the issue argue two key cases regarding same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court.
    If same-sex marriage is approved, what’s to stop polygamists from demanding legal protection and cultural acceptance?
    The justices are expected to rule in June. It will be the Court’s most important social and cultural ruling since its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
    What advocates for same-sex marriage should be asked is whether they consider any other human relationship worthy of similar constitutional protection and based on what standard? The Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right to marry. States, not the federal government, issue marriage licenses.
    Current laws restrict “underage” marriage, as well as polygamy. If same-sex marriage is approved, what’s to stop polygamists from demanding legal protection and cultural acceptance? Justice Antonin Scalia predicted as much in 2003 in his dissent of the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. So I ask, if “fairness” and “equality” are the standard, isn’t it also “unfair” to “discriminate” against polygamists who wish to live in “loving” and “committed” relationships?
    Since we are rapidly discarding the rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers, what is to replace it? Opinion polls? Clever legal arguments? Fairness? What exactly does “fairness” mean and who decides what’s fair? Many things may seem “unfair,” but not all can, or should, be addressed by courts.
    I am reminded of this exchange between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”:
    “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'( ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things…'”
    Last week in Sacramento, Calif., Justice Anthony Kennedy lamented that the Supreme Court is asked to settle too many politically charged issues. Responding to reporters, Kennedy said, “A democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say. And I think it’s of tremendous importance for our political system to show the rest of the world — and we have to show ourselves first — that democracy works because we can reach agreement on a principle basis.”
    The states, or Congress, should be allowed to sort out how they wish to define and license marriage, not the Supreme Court.
    It doesn’t take a prophet to see where this is headed. A nation that legalizes abortion and applies no stigma to cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births is not about to suddenly discover the moral courage to say “no” to same-sex marriage.
    In the 1999 film “The Matrix,” Agent Smith has Neo pinned down on a subway track. As the train approaches, Agent Smith says: “You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death.”
    If, as I suspect, the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, it will be the inevitable result of an increasing number of Americans abandoning the Source of morality and goodness. As Calvin Coolidge said of our Declaration of Independence, “We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/03/12/what-ought-to-be-asking-gay-marriage-advocates/?intcmp=obnetwork#ixzz2NQCqxK00

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