Increased Canadian Slaughter Key to Addressing Concerns Related to Mandatory COOL

CANADA - The chair of the Saskatchewan Slaughter Plant Initiative suggests increased western Canadian hog slaughter capacity is key to addressing concerns related to proposed mandatory U.S. Country of Origin Labelling legislation, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 25 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Legislation requiring pork and other food products sold in the U.S. to be labelled according to country of origin is expected to take effect next September.

Canadian hog producers fear U.S. packing plants, reluctant to accept the extra costs associated with accommodating multiple labels, will reject Canadian hogs.

Florian Possberg, the chair of the committee working to attract new slaughter capacity to Saskatchewan, says it appears COOL will have the biggest impact on hogs produced and finished in Canada and shipped directly for U.S. slaughter.

Florian Possberg-Saskatchewan Slaughter Plant Initiative

I think last year there was something like 8.8 million hogs that went live into the U.S.

Of them I think somewhere around 2.7 million were slaughter hogs.

What's really critical is that those 2.7 million market hogs will probably carry a discount so that part really hasn't been sorted out.

Most of the plants we've talked to will accept hogs that are grown out in the U.S. from Canada so the feeder pigs and early weans that go down we don't think will be significantly discounted.

The big question mark is what will happen to these market hogs so producers are planning to reduce that risk by either finding slaughter capacity in Canada for those hogs or taking them down to finish in the U.S.

Possberg notes efforts to bring a new processing plant to Saskatchewan continue to move forward.

He considers increased Canadian slaughter capacity to be part of the long term solution to the concerns related to mandatory Cool but, he concedes, it would be impossible to get new capacity on line before September of next year.

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