August 9, 2007


Canadian livestock group forms coalition against US meat labelling rules



The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) have formed a coalition against provisions of the US country of origin labelling (COOL).


The coalition, known as Canadian Livestock Producers against COOL (CLiP COOL) views the COOL provision of the US Farm Bill violates trade obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Mandatory COOL, as it is currently written, must be repealed or undergo substantial revisions to conform to NAFTA and the WTO. CLiP COOL is also concerned that the so-called "fix" being currently promoted in Washington may fall extremely short of complying with US obligations.


CLiP COOL is calling on the Government of Canada to express these concerns to the US government in the strongest possible terms. CPC president Clare Schlegel said both governments should exercise its rights to NAFTA and WTO and overcome the trade barrier.


There will be added costs as a result of the requirement for verifiable recordkeeping audit trails, and detailed labelling that would allow only meat from animals "born, raised and processed" in the United States to be labelled a "Product of USA". Beef and pork produced in US facilities from cattle and hogs born in Canada and exported to the United States at a young age for feeding would require a label indicating the meat is "From Canada and the United States".


Hugh Lynch-Staunton, president of the CCA states these provisions live animals bound to US will be impaired if the facilities do not want to incur the burden of tracking to satisfy the origin label. So even though Canadian meat might do well with US consumers, Canadian livestock producers will face lower prices for their animals, he said.


The only way to avoid the discrimination against Canadian animals is for the labelling law to acknowledge that the act of processing live animals into meat is a substantial transformation and that the meat is the origin of the country where that transformation occurred. CLiP COOL believes that the NAFTA and the WTO require the United States to treat meat from animals processed in the United States as US meat.


Live cattle and swine exports to the United States in 2006 were valued at over US$1.8 billion.