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Call for US COOL Rule to be Withdrawn

16 April 2013

CANADA - The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has called on that the US to withdraw its proposed rule for mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) because the association claims it fails to bring the U.S. into compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.

The recommendation is found in the concluding remarks of the CCA comments submitted last week in response to the USDA’s proposed regulation published in the Federal Register on 12 March.

The CCA recommendation is made in light of USDA’s failure to provide any explanation of how the proposed rule would bring the US into compliance with its WTO obligations.

The CCA adds that the COOL proposal also does not have a credible cost/benefit analysis.

“These deficiencies fall well short of satisfying the proper US rulemaking process and on this basis, the USDA should withdraw the rule,” the CCA said.

The CCA added that the proposed rule would only escalate the level of discrimination and cost to livestock producers in Canada and Mexico.

In Canada, it is estimated that the proposed rule would significantly increase damages from COOL beyond the current impact of C$25 to C$40 per head.

“The CCA’s position remains that the only way the US can come into compliance with the WTO is to amend the COOL legislation to allow either a single mandatory label for all meat processed in the U.S. or to allow for voluntary labelling,” the CCA said.

“Until this outcome is achieved, the CCA will continue to work with its allies in the US and Mexico and with the Government of Canada to ensure compliance, seek compensation or take retaliatory action through the WTO.”

The cattlemen have been backed in their stance by the Canadian pig producers.

The Canadian Pork Council’ comments on the proposed rule to amend Country of Origin Labelling regulations said that the rule will not remove discrimination found by the WTO panel but will only serve to make it worse by increasing the level of discrimination against imported livestock.

The CPC said the Appellate Body was clear that the discrimination caused by COOL stems from the fact that different labels are required for meat from cattle and hogs exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States than for meat from cattle and hogs born or raised in another country. As these labelling requirements are statutory, it is a statutory, not regulatory, change that is needed to mitigate their discriminatory effect.

The CPC said the proposed regulatory rule will exacerbate the problem for Canadian exporters, while reducing the competitiveness of the US meat industry due to the lack of adequate supply to maintain throughput and competitive costs.

“Failure by the USA to address the root causes of discrimination against imported livestock found by the WTO panel and confirmed by the Appellate Body, will present Canada with no other choice but to go back to the WTO to argue that the United States still has not come into compliance with last year’s WTO ruling.” the CPC said.

“This carries the very high risk for the United States that Canada (and Mexico) will find themselves in a position to retaliate against US exports.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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