September 5, 2008
September 5, 2008 - Burdell Johnson (N.D.), president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), represented sheep producers at a meeting last week in Kansas City, Mo., where 70 represenatives from more than 30 industry groups defining every point in the supply chain gathered to develop procedures for implementing the requirements of Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL). The law takes effect Sept. 30, 2008.
The goal of the meeting was to reach agreement on universal language for the documents required to move livestock-origin claims along the ownership chain to ensure that the meat covered by COOL is accurately labeled at retail. In an effort to achieve compliance in the most effective, least burdensome and least costly approach for producers, marketing businesses, feeders and packers, the coalition of organizations developed the language for a universal Country of Origin Affidavit/Declaration of Origin document.
The affidavit, deemed an official document by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), plainly identifies the origin of the livestock being moved. The groups also recommended that the document remain in effect for a period of time rather than requiring a new affidavit each time livestock ownership is transferred.
Twenty-eight organizations shared the recommended affidavit with USDA this week and conducted meetings with department officials to formally present the language. The producer affidavit, as presented to USDA, reads, "As an affidavit is deemed by USDA as an official record of Country of Origin, I attest through first-hand knowledge, normal business records or producer affidavit(s) that all livestock referenced by this document or other communications specific to the transaction and transferred are of [Insert Country Name] origin. Should the origin of my livestock become other than that described above, I agree to notify the buyer/agent when this occurs. This affidavit/declaration shall remain in effect until revoked in writing by the undersigned and is delivered to [Insert Buyer/Agent]."
The affidavit, along with the cover letter to Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight, are available from the home page of www.sheepusa.org