Helping Iowan’s Understand COOL

Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), a part of the 2008 Farm Bill, is actually marketing legislation that provides consumers with knowledge of where their food is raised and processed.  The interim rule, which began September 2008, allowed six months for the food chain to learn about and adapt to the new rule before the final rule became effective March, 2009.          

Programmatic Response: 

Significant effort was extended to educate producers, processors and consumers about the new COOL rules and how to successfully implement them:

·       The Iowa Beef and Pork Industry Centers at ISU hosted a statewide webcast in August 2008, with 14 people viewing locally at two NW Iowa sites (Monona and Sioux counties).

·       Two teleconference calls in NW Iowa were held shortly after the webcast.  Eighteen Extension staff dialogued about COOL and its implementation for county fair livestock.

·       A COOL presentation was given at the ISU Western Research and Demonstration Farm annual meeting in February 2009.  Twelve people participated in identifying where their food originated.

·       A COOL display was developed and used at the Citizens for Extension meeting in Sioux County.  This was viewed by 24 people.

·       Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) trainings, featuring COOL, reached 136 youth and 42 adults in Ida, Monona and Woodbury counties.

Outcome Statement:

The results depended upon the audience.  At the original webcast, two of the people who attended were employed as food safety and quality assurance specialists for a NW Iowa pork packing plant.  They felt the webcast provided them with information on how to set up their protocol with pork producers delivering live pigs.

Because of the teleconference calls, Mike Anderson worked with Cindy Cleveringa and me to develop an educational handout for 4-H’ers that explained COOL and what they needed to do to be compliant with national legislation.

Most of the participants at the research farm meeting were producers.  They were interested in what they needed to have to market their livestock.  They also learned about Secretary Vilsack’s recent request for food industry labels to be more specific.

At the Citizens for Extension meeting, all of the people who viewed the display were positive about COOL.  One of the viewers commented, “It’s time that the U.S. becomes more aggressive in their labeling.”

In the six FSQA workshops, the youth examined 20 labels from common food products to determine country of origin.  They surmised that most of the meat labels were vague.  Together, they completed a declaration of origin form and learned that it was pretty easy.  The real proof, however, will be how well they complete these forms for the livestock they will sell at their county fairs this summer.


143 -  Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: April 15, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,