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American cattlemen want level playing field to survive the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:52 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 19:17:45-04

HALLSBURG, TX​ — The Texas cattle business wants to break out of its coronavirus-induced troubles, and make more money.

They say breaking down long-standing barriers would help, along with bringing back a measure that helps consumers make informed choices.

A couple weeks ago, we showed you how the coronavirus has hurt the Texas cattle business.

One big reason why?

Regulations, according to ranchers.

But they would like to have one regulation back.

Since 2002, shoppers could pick up an item on store shelves and tell where it came from.

So-called country of origin laws showed what came from here, at home, and what didn't.

But in 2015, meatpackers got an exemption, and Texas ranchers like Craig Travers started hurting.

"You need to buy American because it's home-raised and we know what we have in it you know, and if you buy from overseas there you don't know what you're getting," said Hallsburg Rancher Craig Travers.

He says right now, meatpackers have flooded the market with beef from Mexico and other points south of the border.

Montana Rancher Bill Bullard says that's not all.

"The multi national meatpackers do not want consumers to know, that they're importing beef from approximately 20 countries, like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand Canada, Mexico," said Bullard of the rancher's group R-CALF.

He says all with different standards than what American-raised beef must maintain.

He, and others, want a level playing field for American ranchers who they say keep getting squeezed out.

Travers says he'd like to be able to sell to grocery stores, and other places, but the law makes him take his cattle to just certain slaughterhouses when a wild game processor might just as easily do the job.

"We have too many regulations over here and it's kinda hurting us," he explained.

Many shoppers say they'd like to "eat local" which is why Bullard's group wants to bring country of origin labeling back to beef and other meat.

"We believe consumers deserve to know where their food comes from, particularly their beef and they deserve the opportunity to support the American cattle rancher," said Bullard.

Right now, Travers can't make back what he has invested in his herd because 4 meatpackers control 85% of the American cattle business, and use their big money to get laws changed to favor them.

"All the big-rigs there you know, they're rolling in big bucks and the rancher's taking the hit," he said.It's why R-CALF has a petition with nearly 4-hundred thousand signatures urging the president and congress to bring back country labeling to our meat and dairy supply.

You can find more information here.