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Movement of Canadian Cattle and Hogs to US

by 5m Editor
1 June 2011, at 11:05am

CANADA - A US-based agricultural economist predicts any changes to mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) laws in the US will have a minimal effect on the overall movement of live cattle and hogs into the US from Canada, Bruce Cochrane writes.

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel struck to address complaints from Canada and Mexico over Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling has ruled preliminarily that the law violates the technical barriers to trade and is expected to issue a final draft of that decision later this year at which point the US will have an opportunity to appeal.

Dr Ron Plain, an agricultural economics professor with the University of Missouri, expects that process to take up to two years but, even if the law is eliminated, he doubts it'll have much impact on the total number of Canadian cattle and hogs moving into the US.

Dr Ron Plain-University of Missouri

We've got US packers who do kill Canadian born animals and those that don't.

I expect if COOL goes away we'll move back towards where we were before which means some of those plants that used to slaughter Canadian born animals will start slaughtering again and some of those plants that now do slaughter Canadian born animals will probably slaughter less as they find there's more other US slaughter plants that are getting back in the business of slaughtering Canadian born animals.

The total flow of meat and animals south may not change but which regions it's flowing into, which slaughter plants it flows through could well change back to a pattern more like what we had before the spring of 2009 when COOL went into effect.


Dr Plain acknowledges, like all legal processes, this is rather slow so trying to put a time line on when things are likely to change is very difficult to do.