October 2, 2008

Country of Origin Labeling Now in Place in Scotland County, Across USA

Made in the USA. You see that on more and more merchandise at the store, and as of September 30th, consumers will be seeing it on beef products and several other food items.

The process has been a long-time coming, since it was first approved by lawmakers back in 2002.

Country of Origin Labeling or COOL, came to life with the 2002 Farm Bill which was set to require country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef, lamb, pork, fish, perishable agricultural commodities, and peanuts. Subsequent legislation approved January 27, 2004, delayed implementation of mandatory COOL for all covered commodities except wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish until September 30, 2006.

A second delay occurred November 10, 2005, pushing the deadline to September 30, 2008.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is responsible for the process, which under the Farm Act of 2008 now also includes chicken, goat meat, ginseng, pecans and macadamia nuts.

While the process will be most visible to area residents on the consumer end, producers are also being impacted by the law.

Cattle sold in the country must be accompanied with a declaration statement officially noting the animal’s country of origin as the USA.

The Scotland County Livestock Auction will maintain COOL affidavits on file for all sellers.

“We are certifying that the animals that are leaving our sales are USA certified Country of Origin,” said Barb Blomme of the Scotland County Livestock Auction. “In order to do that we are required to maintain affidavits of Country of Origin from all of our sellers. This is something we all knew was coming, so our customers are handling the transition well.”

According to the USDA, the supplier of a covered commodity that is responsible for initiating a country of origin declaration, which in the case of beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and goat is the slaughter facility, must possess or have legal access to records that are necessary to substantiate that claim.

In the case of beef, lamb, chicken, goat, and pork, a producer affidavit shall be considered acceptable evidence on which the slaughter facility may rely to initiate the origin claim, provided it is made by someone having first-hand knowledge of the origin of the animal(s) and identifies the animal(s) unique to the transaction.

“This affidavit allows you to declare the origin of all livestock that you sell with us,” Blomme said. “In other words, if all the livestock that you sell are of USA origin, you will only need to sign the COOL affidavit once. We will keep it on file and it will automatically declare the origin of all livestock that you sell until you have revoked the affidavit or changed it.”

The government regulations require that all COOL records must be maintained for no less than one-year, and must be made available within five businesses days to any requesting USDA agent for verification.

The Livestock Marketing Association points out that Country of Origin Labeling is federal law. Any seller wishing to send livestock into commerce must declare the country of ownership under this legislation.

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