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AFBF provides COOL compliance guidelines

Livestock producers must provide definitive origin information to slaughter facilities under the new country-of-origin-labelling (COOL) rule that went into effect this month. To help producers comply, the American Farm Bureau Federation has prepared guidelines for providing necessary COOL documentation to buyers.

Livestock producers may use one of the following methods to comply with COOL and provide the required information to buyers:

• Affidavits – Packers may rely on producer affidavits to initiate claims. Affidavits must be made by someone having first-hand knowledge and the affidavit must identify animals unique to the transaction. Producer and packer affidavits are available on the AFBF Voice of Agriculture Web site and may be used to comply with COOL.
Producers can access the documents at:
   • http://www.fb.org/newsroom/nr/nr2008/10-03-08/COOLProducerAffidavit.pdf
   • http://www.fb.org/newsroom/nr/nr2008/10-03-08/COOLPackerAffidavit.pdf

• National Animal Identification System (NAIS): Animals that are part of a NAIS-compliant system may rely on the presence of an official ear tag and/or the presence of any accompanying animal markings, as applicable, to base origin claims.

• USDA-Approved Age Verification Programs: Participation in USDA Quality System Verification Programs (QSVP), such as the USDA Process Verified Program (PVP) and the Quality Systems Assessment (QSA) Program, which contain a source verification component, is also considered acceptable evidence to substantiate COOL claims.

COOL is a USDA marketing program mandated in the 2008 farm bill that requires retailers to notify their customers of the country of origin of beef (including veal), goat meat, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, pecans, peanuts, macadamia nuts and other perishable agricultural commodities. Retailers, packers and their suppliers are mutually responsible for contributing the information necessary to meet the requirements of this new law.

“Livestock producers are not directly regulated by the COOL law because livestock are not considered covered commodities. However, only producers have first-hand knowledge concerning the origin of their animals,” explained Caroline Rydell, director of congressional relations for AFBF. “Definitive origin information must be provided to slaughter facilities so that meat products, as covered commodities, can be accurately labelled at retail. Livestock producers should be prepared to provide necessary country-of-origin documentation to their buyers.”

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