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Missouri Farm Bureau asks for producer participation in USDA's NAIS and COOL comment periods.

Farm Bureau is encouraging Missouri livestock producers to participate in comment periods for two proposed federal programs affecting your livelihood. The National Animal Identification System and Country of Origin Labeling are two very different proposals with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service overseeing NAIS and the Agricultural Marketing Service responsible for COOL. Both agencies are within the USDA.

"NAIS is a work in progress," says Garrett Hawkins, national legislative affairs director for Missouri Farm Bureau. "The current draft user guide USDA is seeking comments on replaces all previous documents published. On both NAIS and COOL proposals, Farm Bureau has policy supporting voluntary, not mandatory, programs. These issues continue to be reviewed by our members as they develop grassroots policy for the organization."

The purpose of NAIS is to provide a streamlined information system to help producers and animal health officials respond quickly to animal disease events in the U.S.

Comments on the NAIS documents may be submitted through the NAIS Web site http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/ or by mail. The NAIS e-mail address is: [email protected]. The mail address is: NAIS Program Staff, VS, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 200, Riverdale, MD 20737. This is an open comment period.

COOL is not a food safety measure, but a marketing tool to provide a recognizable distinction between foreign and domestic products. The proposal requires retailers and their suppliers to maintain specific records to verify claims. USDA cost estimates of implementing mandatory COOL the first year alone vary widely from $500 million to nearly $4 billion.

USDA reopened a 60-day comment period June 15 for the Proposed Rule for mandatory COOL for beef, lamb, pork and perishable agricultural commodities. Farm bill debate should include mandatory COOL, as it was authorized in the 2002 farm bill. Concerns about the original proposed rule resulted in Congress delaying implementation until Sept. 30, 2008. The full text of the rule can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/cool/ls0304.pdf.  

Comments are due Aug. 20 and should be submitted online at www.regulations.gov. Additional means of comment submission are: via e-mail to [email protected]; by mail to Country of Origin Labeling Program, Room 2607-S, Agricultural Marketing Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 0254, Washington, DC 2025-0254; or by fax to (202) 720-1112.

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