The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) recommends that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed rule for mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) be withdrawn as it fails to bring the U.S. into compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.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 today in response to the USDA’s proposed regulation published in the Federal Register of March 12. The CCA recommendation is made in light of USDA’s failure to provide any explanation of how the proposed rule would bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations; as well as a lack of a credible cost/benefit analysis. These deficiencies fall well short of satisfying the proper U.S. rulemaking process and on this basis, the CCA feels that the USDA should withdraw the rule.
Furthermore, the CCA points out 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 $25 to $40 per head.
The CCA’s position remains that the only way the U.S. 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. Until this outcome is achieved, the CCA will continue to work with its allies in the U.S. and Mexico and with the Government of Canada to ensure compliance, seek compensation or take retaliatory action through the WTO.
This week, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz undertook missions to Washington, D.C. and Mexico City where he said Canada and Mexico were committed to continue working together to resolve this dispute and would collaborate on a retaliation strategy. The CCA has estimated the annual impact to Canadian cattle producers at approximately $639 million. Added to the impact to Canadian hog producers, Minister Ritz indicated that Canada could seek extensive retaliatory measures against the U.S., to the tune of approximately $1 billion, should the U.S. not achieve compliance by May 23, 2013, as mandated by the WTO.
The CCA thanks Minister Ritz, International Trade Minister Ed Fast, and the Government of Canada for their support on this difficult trade issue.