Time to prepare, not panic over mandatory COOL

If cattle producers are prepared, the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) going into effect in September won’t be a problem, Iowa Beef Center Director John Lawrence says.

Mandatory COOL, a provision of the 2002 Farm Bill, will go into effect Sept. 30, 2008, after two delays in its implementation.

This provision, though met with mixed feelings by livestock producers, is nothing to be feared, according to Lawrence. Instead of panicking, producers should pay attention, he adds, and they should know what is going to be expected of them.

While buyers may ask producers to sign an affidavit stating the origin of the animals they are selling, it’s nothing to panic over.

“The normal business records that producers keep are all that are needed to prove compliance if they are audited,” Lawrence said. “These [records] may include the inventory records, sales receipts, health papers, etc., that most farmers already have.”

Despite the possible worry of producers that COOL will have a large impact on their day-to-day operations, the main change that COOL will demand is an increase in communication, he says. Cattle producers should be communicating with their buyers in advance to know exactly what kind of requirements the buyer will have.

“[There will be] more communication and paperwork between buyers and sellers,” Lawrence said. “Keep documentation.

If you have animals of different origin on the same farm then be able to inform the buyer.”

Along with communicating with buyers to be clear on what they need, livestock producers should just work on better understanding COOL altogether, he adds.

For more information about COOL, including recommendations from the Iowa COOL Coalition, check out http://www.iowabeefcenter.com/content/COOL.htm.