Michael Kelsey intends to put his brand on the issues challenging Oklahoma cattlemen. Drought affects cattlemen today just as it did when their great grandpas moved cattle by horseback from one range to another. Government regulations also come with headaches.

Kelsey, now in his second week on the job as the new executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association in Oklahoma City, knows he and his organization have some tough problems to solve.

From government they face is the mandatory country-of-origin labeling rule (COOL) finalized by the USDA in May of this year. Eight organizations representing U.S. and Canadian meat and livestock industries have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the new rule. The lawsuit claims the COOL rule is unconstitutional, goes beyond the bounds of original law and is arbitrary and capricious.

"As cattlemen we take great pride in our cattle and the meat products obtained from them," Kelsey said. "We believe beef products produced here are nutritious and safe for consumers to eat.

"We do a good job and we don't need the government to be telling us how to do our job.”

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The lawsuit, Kelsey said, states COOL, in its final state, violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest. Under the Constitution, commercial speech may be compelled only where it serves a substantial government interest such as when compelled speech is aimed at preventing the spread of a contagious disease. Because these labels offer no food safety or public health benefit, yet impose costs the government estimates at $192 million, the government cannot require them, the lawsuit asserts.