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Agricultural News

Beef and Pork Officially Removed from COOL Regulations- Vilsack Speculates on Voluntary Options

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 19:55:19 CST

Beef and Pork Officially Removed from COOL Regulations- Vilsack Speculates on Voluntary Options

Beef and Pork are officially no longer a part of the Country of Origin regulations. This past week, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a final rule in the March 2, 2016, edition of the Federal Register to amend their country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations in response to statutory changes. The final rule officially removes beef and pork muscle cuts and ground beef and pork from the list of covered commodities subject to the COOL regulation. Retailers are no longer required to provide this information for beef and pork at the point of sale. COOL regulatory requirements for chicken, lamb, goat, farm-raised and wild caught fish and shellfish, perishable agricultural commodities, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and ginseng are still in effect.

USDA stopped enforcing the COOL requirements for beef and pork on Dec. 18, 2015, after the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 was signed into law. A provision in that law amended a previous statute by removing beef and pork from the list of products that must carry a COOL label. The US Congress responded to pressure from Canada and Mexico- the two countries that won multiple rounds of trade rulings against the United States over our COOL regulations for beef and pork. The World Trade Organization had authorized retialiation for just over a billion dollars annually- but once the Congress eliminated mandatory COOL for beef and pork, the two countries suspended their plans to retialiate against the US.

The question now is- is there a voluntary scheme that would allow the US to label products regarding their country of origin. Several members of the US Senate continue to talk about such a possible outcome- and have mentioned trying to add an amendment to the Voluntary GMO Labeling Bill that many say must pass Congress in the next few weeks to avert the consequences of a Vermont law going into effect- requiring all food sold in Vermont to be labeled as having GMO ingredients or not.

At this past Friday's News Conference with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack answered a question raised by Radio Oklahoma Network Director of Farm Programming, Ron Hays, about the possibility of a voluntary COOL program- as Hays asked the Secretary if there was a proposal out there that would not cause Canada and/or Mexico to revive the tariffs they could still impose on the US.

Today's Beef Buzz features the comments from the Secretary and where the US stands regarding Country of Origin Labeling.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



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