Alternatives to M-COOL Can Give Consumers Product Information18 November 2013
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CANADA - The general manager of Manitoba Pork Council suggests there are several alternatives to US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling for providing product information to consumers, writes Bruce Cochrane.
In May, in response to a World Trade Organization order to bring Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling into compliance with its international trade obligations, the US added new labelling provisions for red meat and banned the mixing of product from different countries prompting Canada and Mexico to seek authorization to impose retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of US imports.
Manitoba Pork Council general manager Andrew Dickson says the legislation has disrupted the flow of livestock and cost producers money in all three nations.
Andrew Dickson-Manitoba Pork Council
Canada and the US have built up this integrated North American livestock industry and COOL essentially brings an iron curtain down into that industry and creates costs on both sides of the border and especially in the United States where plants have closed, producers have had to pay extra costs and it's an extra cost to consumers at the end of the day for information that very few of them actually seem to want.
There's various ways of providing information to the general public.
There's traceability programmes in place that industry could use if the consumers were prepared to pay for it.
A voluntary labelling system could be put into place.
There's ways of doing marketing programmes that would link a farm to product being sold at a retail level.
There's various countries in the world that have helped their industries develop these voluntary programmes to help their local producers and the same thing could be done in the United States.
We've done similar things in Canada and it's worked quite successfully without having to bring in these sort of intrusions into the market place by law.
Mr Dickson remains hopeful the Country of Origin Labelling issue can be resolved internally by the US government through negotiations aimed at finalizing a new US farm bill, avoiding the need for further WTO involvement.
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