Pro Farmer Editors
Canada is being urged to take action against the U.S. over the issue of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), including a resumption of the WTO challenge of the law. That urging is coming from the Canadian Cattlemens' Association in the wake of a meeting with Canadian government officials.
While USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is not immediately revising the final rule on COOL, CCA expressed disappointment in voluntary guidelines he is asking the industry to follow.
"In our view, the guidelines, as written, will be worse than the interim final rule that the Government of Canada was challenging through the WTO," said CCA President Brad Wildeman. "The implications for the industry on both sides of the border are significant. If the Secretary's suggestions are adopted, either 'voluntarily' or through subsequent rulemaking, the rule will become even more onerous, costly and impractical than it is now, and extremely trade disruptive. The threat of forcing 'voluntary' compliance is tantamount to creating a de facto rule that's very damaging to Canada's red meat industries, as the U.S. industry will likely ease their compliance burden by avoiding purchase of imported animals and beef."
Further, Wildeman said, "This latest action by the USDA increases the already obvious U.S. violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and WTO trade rules. When the final rule was passed by the Bush administration in January, we felt a pause in Canada's trade challenge was in order to evaluate the market response. But this latest protectionist action makes it very clear that Canada must use every tool to challenge actions and policies that will harm the Canadian industry. It's obvious that the U.S. has no intention of creating a workable solution for the industry."
The Government of Canada initially launched a WTO trade challenge against the U.S. and COOL in December 2008. Upon release of the final rule, Canada suspended its WTO challenge to assess its impact, since the added flexibility of the final rule appeared to make an effort to create a more workable trade environment.
Here's a link to read the full release.