According to the Canadian Pork Council, the United States' mandatory country-of-origin labeling law remains a key source of uncertainty for that country's pork producers. Other significant factors CPC has identified as challenging its producers in the year ahead include world trade discussions and the global financial situation.
Florian Possberg, CPC's director, points out that while COOL is now a U.S. law, USDA has not yet put forth the final enforcement rules.
"If the COOL enforcement rules are such that a number of major packers will continue to source Canadian hogs then business can go forward with some certainty that there's going to be a reasonable market for the hogs at the end of the day," says Possberg. "The ironic thing is that there's probably 4 million Canadian born hogs in the United States at one stage or another of being finished there and those hogs will be slaughtered there. The question is how big of a discount and how big of a market disruption they're going to cause."
Possberg is confident that a business-based solution will be sorted out and reached. He emphasizes that Canadian producers have built a relationship with the U.S. producers and that needs to be considered. Canada and Mexico have both filed a challenge to COOL with the World Trade Organization.
"I know there are negotiations at very high levels going on to help sort out and ensure the rules will be ones that allow business to continue with as little disruption as possible, he adds. "The sooner we get those rules sorted out the better."