June 27, 2008
June 27, 2008 - During a press conference earlier this week on implementing the new Farm Bill, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said the implementation of the new permanent disaster program will likely be later than sooner but Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL) is expected to be implemented by the Oct. 1 deadline.
"The permanent disaster program is going to be longer (to implement) because we specifically do not have any expedited authority in the new Farm Bill," Schafer said. "Some of the programs do give us an opportunity to work faster. This one specifically does not. I doubt that we will see that final rule period before we leave the administration here in January."
Schafer commented that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is on "track to see the COOL legislation complete by Oct. 1," but was not sure when the ruling would be posted to the Federal Register.
"We have some expediting authority here, and we are likely to go to a final rule with a six-month grace period, similar to the implementation rate we did with the shellfish."
When asked, Schafer disclose that it is likely COOL will go directly to an interim final rule rather than to a proposed rule. Understanding that it will take some time to implement, USDA will be working with retailers and packagers to make sure it is phased in and fully compliant by the end of the six-month grace period.