Manitoba Pork Council Voices Concern Over Mandatory U.S. Country of Origin Labelling

CANADA - Manitoba Pork Council is expressing fear that complex mandatory U.S. Country of Origin Labelling provisions will prompt American meat packers to avoid purchasing Canadian livestock, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 15 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Country of Origin Labelling provisions, contained in the 2007 U.S. farm bill passed by congress, identify four labels.

The labels identify product from animals produced and slaughtered in the United States, from animals produced partially in another country, from livestock imported into the U.S. for immediate slaughter or from animals produced and slaughtered in another country.

Manitoba Pork Council general manager Andrew Dickson says the fear is that U.S. packers will source only animals produced exclusively in the U.S.

Andrew Dickson-Manitoba Pork Council

The two labels we're very worried about is these two intermediate labels.

The concern we're having is, what would be the reaction from the packing plants?

Apparently their institutions have agreed that they can make this work but our major concern is to find out what the actual buyers are going to do for these packing plants.

Are they going to buy these animals?

For example, weanlings that have been finished in barns in the United States, if the packing plant decides they don't want pigs of that origin what is the producer going to do in the United States?

If that happens then they're not going to be buying any more weanlings.

We have a system here geared up to deliver something like four million weanlings into the United States.

Similarly with the finished end, if the packing plants in the United States won't buy finished pigs from Canada and we ship something like 1.3 to 1.5 million finished animals into the United States for slaughter and packing and retailing, they're all going to have to flow back into Manitoba and be slaughtered here.

We simply won't have the capacity to slaughter those animals.

Dickson says, if the U.S. packers are prepared to buy these animals and label the product without pushing the extra costs back to the producer, the system can work but to date there are no assurances that will happen.

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