A U.S. based Agricultural Economist expects Congress to address concerns over the legality of Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling next year when it writes a new U.S. farm bill.
Earlier this month a World Trade Organization Panel investigating complaints from Canada and Mexico over U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling determined the food labelling law, implemented in 2008, discriminates against imported livestock and is inconsistent with U.S. trade obligations.
Dr. Ron Plain, an agricultural economics professor with University of Missouri, says the difficult situation has come in the case of imported live animals which are fed out and slaughtered in the United States.
Clip-Dr. Ron Plain-University of Missouri:
It's created a difficult sort of tracking record keeping challenge for livestock producers and for the packing industry to be able to keep the meat from those imported animals separate from the meat from U.S. raised animals.
That has had the impact of a number of U.S. packers who have slaughtered just a small number of Canadian or Mexican born animals, a number of those type of packers have decided just not to slaughter anything but U.S. born animals because it relieves them of the difficult tracking process of trying to keep and separate the meat from foreign born animals that were slaughtered in the U.S. from U.S. born animals slaughtered in the U.S.
Dr. Plain says most U.S. processors would like to see product that comes out of their plants labelled simply "U.S. product" to avoid the record keeping and segregation of the beef and pork based on where the animal was born prior to slaughter but some producers favor maintaining the current rule while others feel it's been more hassle than it's worth.
He suggests, while resolution of this type of dispute is typically a slow process, the U.S. Congress is scheduled to write a new farm bill in 2012 and most likely will deal with the issue at that time.