Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ritz strikes out

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz struck out today as Congress voted approval of a new five-year Farm Bill without any changes to Country-of-Origin Labeling regulations.

Ritz and Trade Minister Ed Fast both called for politicians to include provisions to either amend or drop COOL so it has less impact on prices for Canadian hogs and cattle.

And they threatened trade retaliation, even a trade war, if the U.S. politicians fail to back down on COOL.

It's a lot of bluff, bluster and hot air that surely must do nothing to win friends and influence politicians in Washington.

So that leaves Ritz and Fast and the Canadian hog and beef producers hoping that the World Trade Organization will agree once again that the amended COOL regulations violate the trade treaty the U.S. signed.

It's not a slam dunk for Canada and Mexico because the new COOL regulations apply to labelling of all meat marketed through retail outlets in the U.S. - meat that is from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. as well as ones that are born or raised in Canada or Mexico.

That makes it somewhat challenging to prove that the regulations discriminate against meat from animals born outside the U.S. Sure, we think it does, but when it comes to a "court case," it's always a bit of a crap shoot.