USDA issues interim final rule on COOL

July 27, 2008 07:00 PM

Late this afternoon, USDA released its long awaited interim final rule on country of origin labeling (COOL). You can view the 233-page rule by going to:            

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, August 1, and the comment period will remain open for 60 days. Nevertheless, the rule will take effect September 30, 2008, as mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill.            

All covered commodities, including cattle, will have to have country of origin verification if they entered the United States after July 15, 2008. (This will exempt the 35,000 head of Canadian dairy cattle that have entered the U.S. since the first of the year but prior to July 15.)            

Growers, including livestock producers, will have to maintain records "that establish and identify the immediate previous source and the immediate subsequent recipient of a covered commodity (which includes beef and veal) for a period of one year from the date of the transaction.” Failure to do so can lead to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.            

USDA cannot mandate the use of any particular identification system, including the National Animal Identification System.

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