There have been some conflicting and confusing articles in the media
recently regarding the implementation of Country of Origin Labeling
(COOL) legislation that was included in the FY 2004 Omnibus spending
bill recently signed into law.
The following is an accurate account of the present situation prepared
by the Agricultural Marketing Service. Note the opportunity to review and
provide comment on the proposed rule to implement this program.
On January 22, 2004, the Senate passed the fiscal 2004 Omnibus spending bill and forwarded it for signature by President Bush. As part of the FY 04 Omnibus bill, implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for all covered commodities except wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish was delayed until September 30, 2006. Accordingly, wild and farm-raised fish and shell fish must be labeled for COOL and as either wild or farm-raised by designated retailers on September 30, 2004, as set forth in the 2002 Farm Bill.
USDA is required to promulgate regulations for the mandatory COOL program by September 30, 2004. At this time, USDA plans to issue a final rule in the spring of 2004 for all commodities. The comment period for the proposed rule which was published in the Federal Register on October 30, 2003, ends on February 27, 2004. USDA encourages all interested parties to submit comments for consideration during the final rule's development.