Canada Hopes for U.S. Recognition of Substantial Transformation in Country of Origin Labelling Dispute

Farmscape for November 28, 2011   (Episode 4019)

The president of the Canadian Pork Council is hopeful the United States will alter its position and recognize substantial transformation in the wake of a World Trade Organization ruling that Mandatory U.S. Country of Origin Labelling violates U.S. trade obligations.

Since it's implementation in 2008, U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling has virtually eliminated the movement of Canadian slaughter hogs into U.S. packing plants, dramatically reduced the flow of Canadian weanling pigs into the U.S. for finishing and significantly reduced the value of those pigs that have moved south.

Earlier this month the World Trade Organization Panel investigating complaints from Canada and Mexico over Mandatory COOL determined the food labelling law discriminates against imported livestock and is inconsistent with U.S. trade obligations.

Canadian Pork Council President Jurgen Preugschas hopes the ruling will open the door to a negotiated resolution.

Clip-Jurgen Preugschas-Canadian Pork Council:
I think the main thing we would look for is that significant transformation would qualify for being U.S. product.

So when a weanling goes to the U.S., is fed in the U.S., killed in the U.S., processed in the U.S. it can be treated as product of the U.S. so those animals do not have to be separated out and create much higher costs for the packers and the processors.

That would be the ultimate that we would want to get, that significant transformation would qualify as product of the U.S.

Preugschas stresses, we have to keep in mind the WTO ruling is a first step toward resolution of the dispute and any changes will take time to negotiate and implement.

He notes the U.S. has 60 days to decide whether to appeal, which would take the matter through an additional appeal process so producers shouldn't get their hopes too high for a quick resolution.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       * Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council