Mandatory country-of-origin labeling has been in effect for one week and reports out of Canada is that the law is hurting livestock producers' business. "We've already seen disruption in the markets and expect more negative impact on volume and prices, as some traders adopt a 'wait-and-see' approach to Canadian cattle markets," says Travis Toews, Canadian Cattlemen's Association foreign trade committee chairman.
CCA and the Canadian Pork Council submitted joint comments concerning COOL to USDA. Both groups confirmed that they will press the Canadian government to take action against the United States with the World Trade Organization. Recently Canada's Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, announced plans to initiate a WTO Panel on COOL.
Canadian and U.S. pork industries have long held partnerships related to farrowing and rearing pigs. "The potential for trade-damaging effects with COOL looms over North America's highly integrated markets," says Jurgen Preugschas, CPC president. "Already, one of our major U.S. customers announced it will cease purchasing pigs born outside of the United States when COOL enforcement begins. The industries in both countries stand to lose economic opportunities."
Emphasizing beef's challenges, Toews says CCA believes the food labeling rules unfairly target ground meat, hamburger and patties, while other processed foods are exempt. "We believe that meat which undergoes further processing in a United States facility, whether ground or combined with other ingredients, should no longer be called Canadian," he concludes.