M-COOL Discussed During NAFTA Agriculture Ministers Conference26 May 2014
CANADA - Canada's minister of agriculture says, despite the negative impacts and growing opposition within the United States, the US government appears prepared to defend Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling to the end.
Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling was among the key topics discussed when the ministers of agriculture for Canada, the United States and Mexico met in Mexico City Monday for the first ever NAFTA agriculture ministers conference.
Yesterday during a conference call federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz told reporters, while he raised the issue with US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, nothing new came out of the discussion.
Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:
I did get the feeling that they are coming to grips with the fact that this one is slipping away from them but of course it's never over till it's over.
Just ask Montreal about the hockey game the other night in that regard.
Having said that I think there is a growing recognition that this is harming U.S. industry far more than it would ever be any help to American consumers.
Well over 100 Senators and Congressmen in the end signed on to the industry judicial challenge.
That was unprecedented and I think a lot of that came about because of the pressure and we heard that positively from American industry that the pressure we had put on with our comprehensive politically incorrect retaliatory list certainly brought a lot of people out of the woodwork, got them educated on the issue and they came forward with support for moving away from Mandatory COOL.
We've also seen two major plants close in the US because they couldn't get the volumes of beef that they needed.
We know there are two more on shaky ground.
That's very concerning to Canadian producers because we rely, some 70 per cent of our processing capacity is American so as these plants close it gives us less opportunity to make use of that.
Ritz acknowledges he would like to think there is opportunity for a reversal of the US position on Mandatory COOL but the administration appears mired down to the point where they'll ride this to the bottom which is unfortunate because it's American jobs and the economies of the livestock sectors in all three countries that are at risk.
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