M-COOL Affects US Pork Producers Buying Canadian Pigs

by 5m Editor
22 May 2012, at 10:51am

CANADA & US - The president of Paragon Economics says Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling has taken its greatest toll on US pork producers who have typically relied on imported Canadian weanling and feeder pigs, Bruce Cochrane writes.

In Early May the World Trade Organization Appellate Body heard an appeal by United States of a November 2011 WTO ruling that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling affords US produced livestock preferential treatment and violates US trade obligations.

A ruling on that appeal is expected in July.

Paragon Economics President Dr Steve Meyer recalls, when the law came into effect in the fall of 2008, it prompted some US pork processors to stop purchasing Canadian origin pigs.

Dr Steve Meyer-Paragon Economics

It really hit the US pork producers, obviously the ones that were importing feeder pigs and weaned pigs for feeding here in the US, because they had to be segregated and slaughtered and the product from them either labelled differently as being a product of Canada and the US instead of product of the US or that product had to be shunted into areas where the labelling didn't apply.

This labelling only applies for retail fresh non-processed product.

If you take a pig that originated in Canada, fed him in the United States you could take the product from that that is either spiced or seasoned or smoked or cured plus any fresh product that might go into food service and you may not have to label any of it.

That's a possibility and so those producers that were buying those pigs, they had to jump through some hoops to deliver pigs at certain times to packers, packers put some cost differential we think on those pigs.

USDA never found that to be significant across the board but we think there were spots where there were some price discrimination there because the pigs cost more to handle.

They had to be segregated.

Dr Meyer notes the National Pork Producers Council has called for repeal of Mandatory COOL but that hasn't happened and now the situation with the World Trade Organization has to be dealt with.