COOL rule implications assessed by NCBA

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — Although the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final rule for country-of-origin labeling, its staffers continue to analyze the implications of the final COOL rule.

"What markets hate most is uncertainty," said Andy Groseta, 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."

In submitting comments to USDA, NCBA requested 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 contends.

The group also requested that USDA clarify record-keeping requirements in the final rule. Because live animals are not "covered commodities," NCBA believes that any USDA audit should end with the packer or processor initiating the origin claim and not go to the cattle producer.

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