Joseph Luter, Smithfield Foods’ chair and chief executive officer, recently stated that COOL could be beneficial to Smithfield because it would decrease the number of Canadian hogs coming into the United States. The special and separate inventory and record-keeping processes that COOL would require would cause the most problems, said Luter. He said Smithfield probably will refuse to buy hogs of Canadian origin because of COOL requirements and costs associated with those requirements.
John Mabry, director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center, also had some recent comments about COOL and third party verification. Mabry says, “While COOL does not require third-party verification, it does require that there be a verifiable audit trail. The producer’s word or data trail will probably not be accepted as sufficient by packers who will want to ensure complete and verifiable reliability of the data. The liability for errors in COOL will be passed from the retailer to the producer.”
“Records must be put into place documenting the birth of each pig, with ID,” says Mabry. “The question of potential third party verification is the one causing the bigger problems. If producers do not like the current rules, then they must contact the decision makers to change the current legislation to make it more workable. For now, it is law, to be enacted in 2004.”
There is growing optimism in Canada that COOL may not happen, because of growing opposition in the United States.
Neil Hahnke, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said there is a groundswell against COOL in the United States, starting with the retailers and working its way to the farm. He also said that the United States is realizing COOL will be costly and that retailers are insisting that products of the United States label be verifiable.