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Minister Ritz Updates US M-COOL Issue

by 5m Editor
23 July 2013, at 8:35am

CANADA - Canada's agriculture minister says amendments to US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling, introduced in May, have worsened US discrimination against imported Canadian and Mexican cattle and hogs, Bruce Cochrane writes.

In May, in response to a World Trade Organization order to bring Mandatory COOL into compliance with it's world trade obligations the US amended provisions for muscle cut covered commodities.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz notes Canada's industry is identifying even more discrepancy between the price they were getting before this final rule came out and what they're getting now so it's actually gotten worse not better.

Gerry Ritz-Canada-Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

On 7 June, we went public with our list that we would use as a basis for retaliatory tariffs.
It's very comprehensive, it goes far beyond pork and beef.

Those are our allies in the US actually but they are on the list.

But California wines, everything we could think of that would actually bring to the attention of the US administration how dire this is.

We tabled that list and had discussions around it at the SARL conference in Vancouver, the first time those state legislators had actually had a convention outside of the US.

They actually came forward on Sunday morning with a unanimous resolution to urge their own government in Washington to move away from Country of Origin Labelling.

The US has put their proposal forward.

We don't think it meets the spirit or letter of what they were asked to do so we've made that statement.

The WTO will adjudicate that at some point.

We don't know yet when that will be.

The Mexicans are in lock step with us on that system as well with their own list and, in the meantime now, the American industry right from the ranchers on through to retail have begun a court action to stop their US administration, their own government, from moving forward on this.

We welcome that.

Our Canadian cattlemen and our pork producers have signed onto that lawsuit as well.

Minister Ritz suggests the best option right now for addressing the situation is through the US farm bill.

In the short term, he suggests, going to a NAFTA label which we had at the end of the Bush administration would give us some breathing space.