Producers and salebarns should look for Canadian ear tags and tattoos

Farm Forum

Recently an aged bull born in Canada was sold through a Kansas Livestock Auction Yard without any conspicuous Canadian marking (no brand or discernable ear tag). An independent feeder purchased the bull, fed it, and then sold it to JBS on a grade and yield basis. The JBS plant slaughtered the bull and claimed the bull had a maple leaf ear tag button on the inside of the ear. JBS contacted the feeder and told him that JBS was condemning the bull because it was of Canadian origin and the particular JBS plant claims it is not certified to slaughter Canadian animals. JBS refused to pay the producer for the value of the bull.

R-CALF USA filed a complaint with the Packers and Stockyards Administration (P&SA) on behalf of the producer and explained that the COOL law did not require plants to be certified to slaughter animals of foreign origin – all they had to do was properly label the resulting meat with a label indicating the bull had been born in Canada and raised and slaughtered in the United States. We also told P&SA that JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker with plants in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere, certainly had the resources to deliver the bull carcass to one of its other plants that regularly slaughters Canadian cattle if they did not have the correct labels at the particular plant that killed the bull.

This is all JBS would have had to do to prevent the cattle producer from losing over $2,000.

But, when there is little to no competition in the marketplace, JBS can do what it wants. So, JBS decided to deprive the producer of the value of the bull knowing that its actions would actually help JBS achieve its political goal of repealing COOL because JBS is now telling producers that the reason the bull was worthless was because of COOL.

We now have learned that this is not an isolated incident, that at least two producers have been similarly mistreated in two states.

Producers and Livestock Auction Yards need to carefully inspect cull breeding bulls and cows that they are selling to determine if the animals had entered the United States with only an ear tag (which may be on the inside of the ear) and a tattoo designating a Canadian origin. The law allows Canadian cattle to enter the U.S. with only an ear tag and tattoo in lieu of a permanent hot-iron brand. The law states the tattoo on the inside of the ear must read ”CAN.”

A hot-iron brand would have alleviated both of these known cases of market abuse because both the producer and the Livestock Auction Yards would have likely seen the foreign brand where the ear tag and tattoo were hidden from view.

Our investigation into these matters has revealed that some U.S. bull sellers are selling bulls of Canadian origin without providing adequate notice of the true origins of the animals.

We hope all our members and member livestock auction yards will keep a look-out for these foreign cattle that bear no permanent brands so no more producers fall victim to the meatpacker’s strategy of building opposition to COOL.