Pork producers must account for every load of hogs they sell under the mandatory country-of-origin (MCOOL) labeling regulations that became effective on Sept. 30.

“The COOL rule has been in the works for years,” reports Steve Larsen, director of pork safety for the National Pork Board. “It was in the 2002 Farm Bill and it’s finally time to implement it. It will not affect all producers, but it will affect most.”

COOL directly affects retailers and packers, but to comply, they need producer participation. “You don’t only have to sell market hogs to have a responsibility under COOL regulations,” continues Larsen. “If you sell weaned pigs for another producer to finish, you have a responsibility. You must provide your customers with a declaration of origin – also known as a producer affidavit – of those pigs. If you are the buyer, you must request the document because you will be asked for the information when it’s your time to sell the animals.”

Larsen says producers should check with suppliers regarding their responsibility under COOL. “My best advice to producers is: ask your customer, be it a packer, a locker or another producer, if you need any documentation to accompany your pigs as a result of COOL coming into effect.”

The Pork Checkoff has developed a Web page dedicated to COOL. The site provides producers with more details on COOL, including exceptions to the rule, sample affidavits from industry customers and answers to frequently asked questions. To access the Web site, click on the “For Producers” tab and navigate to the page labeled “COOL.” For more information, contact Steve Larsen, SLarsen@pork.or, 515-223-2754.