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Changing US Farm Bill to Address M-COOL Could End WTO Trade Action

24 December 2013
Manitoba Pork Council


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US & CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council suggests changes to the US Farm Bill to address concerns related to Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling could end the need for Canada and Mexico to continue their case against the US at the World Trade Organization, Bruce Cochrane writes.

In May in response to a World Trade Organization order to bring Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling into compliance with its international treaty obligations or face the prospects of retaliatory tariffs on US products imported into Canada and Mexico, the United States added additional labelling requirements for red meat and eliminated provisions which allowed the mixing of product from different countries.

Canadian Pork Council executive director Martin Rice notes the added labelling burden has heightened opposition to Mandatory COOL within the United States resulting in increased pressure to address the issue through the US Farm Bill.

Martin Rice-Canadian Pork Council

Country of Origin Labelling is an issue that is in play in the US farm bill discussions and we know that those discussions have been long and difficult, not so much because of COOL but for other issues.

No doubt there is still strong coalitions of support for COOL but in our view the magnitude and the breadth of opposition to COOL has grown significantly such that you do see Congressional members actually speaking about needing to change it and that is something we didn't see a year ago.

There certainly are changes that could be made to Country of Origin Labelling in the Farm Bill that would satisfy both Canada and Mexico in my view and would then eliminate the need to argue for any retaliation down the road which is really the objective of us and of the beef producers because we are anxious to get back to a freely moving trade in livestock and meat products as we have had for many years before COOL came along.

Mr Rice notes we see probably less than ten per cent of the US processing plants that used to accept Canadian hogs doing so now.

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