The controversial plan to impose country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on the U.S. livestock industry has been blocked until Sept. 30, 2006 by the recent filing of the fiscal year 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, says National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Jon Caspers. Congress is expected to approve the bill.

Delaying implementation of COOL for two years provides time for further study. “While NPPC continues to oppose mandatory COOL, the two-year time out period should give all parties ample time to create a voluntary, market-driven framework,” says Caspers, a Swaledale, IA, pork producer.

He adds: “We must now work to resolve the many problems with mandatory COOL — its failure to raise hog prices long-term, exemptions for chicken and turkey products, a reduction in record U.S. pork exports, and the fact that less than 50% of pork products would be covered.”

NPPC will work with the Agriculture Department and Congress to mandate an animal identification system. Once in place, NPPC will work toward a voluntary program.

Also, now that Congress has blocked COOL, NPPC will deal with increasing imports of Canadian hogs and feeder pigs, which are negatively impacting U.S. hog prices, says Caspers.