Country of Origin Labeling Information Presented to ProducersJerry Weiss, swine field specialist
In 2002, Congress passed the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law that, unless changed, will require retailers to inform consumers the country of origin of various commodities. The two main commodities are domestic and imported pork and beef. The law, which will go into effect September 30, 2004, has created much confusion among packer-processors and livestock producers about their role and responsibilities in the process. To make matters even more confusing, the USDA is still writing the guidelines of COOL. This is causing even greater uncertainty among beef and pork producers.
As a member of the Iowa Pork Center program planning committee, I was put in charge of gathering and presenting all available information to producers and agri-business individuals. It was decided that we would present the material via satellite, with the assistance of Sherry Hoyer of the Iowa Pork Center. We contacted the following speakers to present the information: Dr. John Lawrence, ISU Extension Agricultural Economist and Director of the Iowa Beef Center; Dr. James McKean, ISU Extension Swine Veterinarian and Associate Director of the Iowa Pork Center; and William Sessions, Associate Deputy Administrator of the Livestock and Seed Program for the Agricultural Marketing Service of USDA. The satellite program was sponsored by Iowa Pork Center, Iowa Beef Center and ISU Extension. The cost of the program was $10 per person.
Seventy Iowa counties hosted this two hour satellite program held on June 10th, 2003, and other states also had satellite access. The registered attendance was 196 individuals, with 126 producers, 26 agri-business managers, 24 extension staff members, 15 USDA individuals, one packer/processor, and four media individuals. 152 evaluations were returned to the Iowa Pork Center that asked the question, How familiar were you with COOL prior to this program. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very much, the group average was 2.75. The evaluation also asked, Did the speakers help you understand your responsibilities and options under COOL. With the same scale, the average was 3.85. Because of the success of this program, a follow-up meeting will present the guidelines of COOL.
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