Voluntary COOL Provisions Add Additional Confusion

by 5m Editor
24 February 2009, at 11:42am

CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council says calls for voluntary US Country of Origin Labelling provisions that go beyond what's required by law add additional confusion to the issue, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Last week US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced the final rule for mandatory Country of Origin Labelling provisions outlined in the 15 January US federal register will take effect, as scheduled, 16 March.

However he has also called for the implementation of additional voluntary labelling provisions.

Canadian Pork Council Trade Advocacy Committee chair Florian Possberg says the final rule represents an acceptable compromise.

Florian Possberg-Canadian Pork Council

What we've seen to date is a number of the major packers have said the simplest way for us to deal with this is just to avoid Canadian hogs.

This is very contrary to our NAFTA agreements, WTO and all the rest.

We fear that this is the secretary pandering to some projectionist lobby in the US that will use this as a trade barrier to prevent fair competition between Canadians and American in our industry.

That's really completely contrary to what the president told us when he was in Ottawa last week, that's contrary to what most economists will say is good for our long term health and well being as trading partners.

It's just bizarre.

This whole thing is very hard for us to understand how Obama's administration can bring out such a bizarre request of the industry.

Possberg says the request for additional voluntary provisions adds confusion to the situation.

He notes there isn't a mechanism in place for US processors to comply with the added provisions and the Canadian industry fears, the only solution for US processors is to avoid Canadian product entirety.