Canadians are not happy with USDA’s new Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules. The new rules, published in the Federal Register Friday are supposed to appease the Canadians and bring the U.S. into compliance with WTO rules but officials north of the border say it has made the situation worse.
In a joint statement, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast said: “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.”
Canadian interests charge the labeling law has made it more expensive for U.S. processors to handle Canadian livestock, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) says their industry loses $640 million a year while the Canadian Pork Council estimates their losses a $500 million per year since COOL took effect.
CCA director of government and international relations John Masswohl wants Canada to ask the WTO for authorization to implement retaliatory tariffs and wants Ottawa to come up with a list of targeted products so affected U.S. interests would put pressure on USDA to change the rule.