Producer Backlash Against AMI's Unauthorized Demands

WASHINGTON – The American Meat Institute (AMI) contacted R-CALF USA today to inform the cattle-producer organization that AMI has recommended that its packer members begin to demand that farmers and ranchers provide affidavits, access to records, third-party verifications, and indemnification of packer liability in order to meet non-existent implementation regulations for country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of meat.
calendar icon 15 June 2007
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AMI cites a proposed country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule, published in the Federal Register on Oct. 30, 2003, for its authority to make such demands.

R-CALF USA fired back in a formal letter to AMI, which advised AMI that R-CALF USA will file formal complaints on behalf of its cattle-producing members with the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) against AMI and any meatpacker that follows AMI’s recommended demands that would deceive, mislead, coerce and threaten U.S. cattle producers.

“AMI’s assertion that the October 2003 proposed rule confers authority to AMI members to make demands of R-CALF USA member or any other U.S. cattle producer is false, misleading, deceitful and otherwise not in accordance with the law,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “This proposed rule is not in force and has no effect and does not confer any rights or responsibilities upon any person presently engaged in the production of commodities covered by the COOL statute, originally passed in the 2002 Farm Bill.”

R-CALF USA stated in its letter to AMI that until a final rule is published in the Federal Register and the requirements for COOL implementation are known, it is wholly irresponsible for AMI to use the market power of the meatpackers to effectively burden U.S. producers with AMI’s presumptions.

“R-CALF USA finds AMI’s list of recommended demands to be a deliberate attempt to use false and misleading information in order to cause the nationwide imposition of unauthorized demands upon U.S. cattle producers for the purpose of scaring them into supporting AMI’s political agenda,” he asserted. “R-CALF USA will aggressively pursue available remedies if AMI does not rescind these recommendations and advise its membership that they are not authorized to make such demands pursuant to the COOL statute.

“AMI’s recommendation that meatpackers make unauthorized demands of cattle producers to conform to regulations that do not exist is contrary to the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA), which prohibits U.S. meatpackers from engaging in any unfair, unjustly discriminatory and deceptive practices against U.S. cattle producers,” Bullard concluded.

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