National Pork Producers Council president Jon Caspers says the FY 2004 Ominbus Appropriations Bill blocking mandatory country-of-origin labeling until Sept. 30, 2006, is a big win for the U.S. pork industry.

Final passage of the bill is expected when Congress returns. Lawmakers opted for a two-year delay in implementing the controversial COOL provision, thus opening the door for further study of the law.

“While NPPC continues to oppose mandatory COOL, the two-year time-out period should give all parties ample time to create a voluntary, market-driven framework,” says Caspers. “We must now work to resolve the many problems with mandatory COOL- its failure to raise hog prices long-term; exemptions for chicken and turkey products; a reduction in record U.S. pork exports and less than 50 percent of pork products would be covered by COOL.”

According to Caspers, NPPC will work with USDA and Congress to put in place a national animal identification system.

“Such a traceability system must ensure that stringent measures are in place to provide accurate, affordable and effective animal health information in order to protect the health of the U.S. livestock herd,” says Caspers. “This will guarantee that consumers are further assured of greater confidence in the U.S. food supply and enhance our ability to respond to an animal health emergency.”

Caspers says that once such a system is in place, NPPC will be able to work toward a workable, voluntary COOL program. Caspers says now that Congress has agreed to block the implementation of mandatory COOL, NPPC will turn its attention to the troubling issue of increasing imports of Canadian hogs and feeder pigs and the negative impact they have on U.S. hog prices.

Source: National Pork Producers Council