USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on Wednesday issued a final rule that allows more stringent enforcement actions, including fines, against retailers and suppliers who have not made a good-faith effort to comply with the agency’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. The rule also allows USDA to assess fines of no more than $10,000 for each violation against any packer or other person who violates the agency’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) regulations.
AMS conducts compliance audits at all federally inspected plants required to submit data for the LMR program. AMS audits these plants at least twice a year to ensure data is reported as required, according to an AMS spokesperson. It conducts additional audits at plants with noncompliance issues that are not corrected within the specified timeframe.
The LMR Act allows a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation. The act also provides for notice and hearing of violations, judicial review, issuance of an injunction or restraining order, and establishes a civil penalty for failure to obey a cease and desist order.
While COOL was repealed for ground and muscle cuts of beef and pork, it remains in place for other products including muscle cut and ground chicken, lamb, and goat; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts; and ginseng.