The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) have announced that they are joined in a coalition that seeks U.S. country of origin labeling, or COOL, provisions that are in agreement with international trade agreements.
The coalition calls itself the Canadian Livestock Producers Against COOL (CLiP COOL), and insists that the mandatory COOL provision of the latest U.S. Farm Bill violates U.S. trade obligations as set forth in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Mandatory COOL, as it is currently written, has to be repealed or significantly revised to conform with NAFTA and the WTO.
Additionally, CLiP COOL says that the so-called “fix” that the U.S. Congress is presently considering still falls woefully short of complying with U.S. obligations.
In the United States, CSPI (the Center for Science in the Public Interest) has been calling for more regulations with regard to U.S. COOL labeling for some time. They claim that the relative absence of labeling on U.S. exports of beef and pork are disguises for producers, packers, and others in the agricultural industry who are not taking proper safety precautions and endangering the health of buyers.
Other commentators say they find U.S. food industry workers trying to place blame for anything that goes wrong with food shipping on “personal responsibility” instead of seeing themselves as responsible for taking all precautions to ensure food health safety.
The new labeling would include U.S. producers distinguishing between livestock born and raised in the U.S. and that which was raised and slaughtered in the U.S. but which had been born elsewhere, such as in Canada, and then shipped to the U.S. at a very young age to continue being raised for eventual slaughter.
However, U.S. critics of the newly proposed COOL standards, including the president of the American Meat Association, say that food from American farms is already quite safe by all national and international standards based on reports made by the Center for Disease Control. Implementing new labeling would cost producers, shippers, and others in the industry amounts of money totaling in the millions of dollars while not being necessary, they say.
CLiP COOL is calling for a trade barrier to be erected unless the United States complies.
“We have never been concerned that Canadian beef and Canadian pork could not compete. In fact we will market our meat products aggressively to ensure they can do well under this law. The problem is that access for live animals to U.S. slaughter facilities will be impaired if those facilities do not want to incur the burden of tracking which product satisfies which origin label. So even though Canadian meat might do well with U.S. consumers, Canadian livestock producers will face lower prices for their animals,” says Hugh Lynch-Staunton, president of the CCA.
Canadian Pork Council (MarketWire), “Canadian Livestock Producers Join Forces Against U.S. Country of Origin Labelling Provisions”