November 4, 2008
Beef and pork producers want Canada to take trade actions against the US over the new Country-of-Origin labelling (COOL) rule that is shutting out their livestock from the US market, according to a report by the Canadian Press.
A growing number of meat plants in the US are rejecting Canadian cattle and hogs for processing ever since COOL went into effect on October 1, 2008.
The Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Canadian Pork Council are calling on the federal government to challenge the US law under the North American FTA and WTO rules. Failure to repeal the law will force some Canadian producers to exit the business, reduce livestock herds and cost the beef and pork industries about US$800 million per year, said the organisations.
Under COOL, Canadian cattle and pigs must be segregated in US feedlots and packing plants, driving some firms to handle only US livestock. Canadian livestock are also required to have more documentation on their origin while cattle must be tagged to indicate they are free of mad cow disease.
US hog processing companies have indicated they will no longer purchase hogs born outside of the US while other US processors have said they will only buy Canadian pigs on certain days at selected plants, said the pork council.
If COOL remains in place, the pork industry alone would lose about US$350 million per year, the council added.
The final rule for COOL is expected to pass next year.