The United States was required to come into compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations in relation to the WTO dispute on its country-of-origin labelling (COOL) regulations today, May 23. The country has instead implemented proposed changes that many U.S. and Canadian cattle and hog industry players say makes it even worse.
The Canadian Pork Council says in a press release that the USDA revised COOL rule which takes effect today, in fact, exacerbates discrimination against Canadian livestock exports and has denied much needed stability to Canadian hog producers.
“The new rule does nothing to reduce discrimination against Canadian feeder pigs and slaughter hogs,” stated Jean-Guy Vincent, Canadian Pork Council’s Chair. “The new rule will strip away any flexibility to co-mingle Canadian and U.S. live swine at processing plants. This will make a very bad situation of the last four years much worse.”
The WTO Appellate Body was clear that the discrimination caused by COOL stems from the fact that different requirements for recordkeeping and segregating beef cattle and live swine apply to beef cattle and hogs born in Canada. Beef cattle and hogs born or raised in the USA do not need to be segregated. As these labelling requirements are mandatory as required in the legislation, a legislative solution is needed, not tweaking regulations which avoid the real issues and permit discrimination to be continued and exacerbated.
The Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Ed Fast, and the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, today issued the following statement on the United States Country of Origin Labelling (COOL):
“Canada is extremely disappointed with the regulatory changes put forward by the United States today with respect to COOL. These changes will not bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations. These changes will increase discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs and increase damages to industry on both sides of the border.
“Canada will consider all options at its disposal, including, if necessary, the use of retaliatory measures.
“We will continue to stand with Canadian cattle and hog producers against these unfair measures and we will not stop until we succeed.”
The CCA released this statement:
“It is extremely frustrating that the United States is continuing to inflict these costs on Canadian producers,” said CCA President Martin Unrau. “USDA has demonstrated that they have no intention of attempting to end the discrimination and it is time they experience some consequences.”
Unrau is referring to recent statements made by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast that Canada would impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada if the U.S. does not comply with the WTO ruling. Today is the deadline set by the WTO and this morning, the USDA published a regulatory change that actually increases the discriminatory impact of COOL. USDA has indicated that the amendment will be effective immediately, but that enforcement will be delayed for six months to allow for industry education.
“USDA’s statement that their amendment complies with the WTO is absurd,” said Unrau. “It will require additional segregation by eliminating the ability to commingle cattle of different origins.” The CCA estimates that this amendment will increase the impact of COOL to about $90 to $100 per head.
The CCA calls upon the Government of Canada to respond by fully pursuing its rights at the WTO as soon as possible. The CCA is also is requesting the Government of Canada to publish a list of retaliatory options to be imposed on the U.S. should they continue to ignore their international obligations and flaunt the WTO’s ruling.