NCBA Analyzing Final Cool Rule
WASHINGTON – NCBA is pleased that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of the final regulation for country of origin labeling (COOL) yesterday. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 15 and will go into effect 60 days from publication on March 16, 2009.
“What markets hate most is uncertainty,” explained Andy Groseta, a cattle producer from Arizona and NCBA president. “The final rule will allow beef markets to adjust to the new regulations and make the six month implementation period more meaningful. Its permanency allows dedicated resources for educating producers, processors, retailers, and consumers.”
NCBA submitted comments to USDA requesting the use of visual inspection to determine the origin of cattle. Cattle from Canada and Mexico are branded with either a CAN or M, respectively, and are also given additional forms of identification (including animal identification ear tags for Canadian animals) upon entering our country. The lack of such markings should be sufficient to prove U.S. origin.
NCBA also requested that USDA clarify record-keeping requirements in the final rule. For instance, because live animals are not “covered commodities,” NCBA believes that any USDA audit should end with the packer or processor that initiated the origin claim, and not go further down the production chain to the cattle producer.
Additionally, NCBA has concerns regarding confusion over Category B labeling.
The final rule addresses many of these issues, and NCBA is currently analyzing the rule to determine exactly what is required of our producers. We will provide further information and analysis as soon as possible.
Copies of the final rule and additional information are on display on line at http://www.ams.usda.gov/COOL.