Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pork Council praises Canada’s COOL team at WTO

The Canadian Pork Council is praising the Canadian team that handled the World Trade Organization’s hearings in Geneva into an appeal filed by the United States because it doesn’t want to change its County of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations.

Council chairman Rick Bergmann says “this is a very complicated process and the Canadian team performed very well in making our case and answering many complex questions.

“It has been very frustrating trying to have the United States make COOL WTO consistent,” meaning within the world trade standards for trade.

“We have now been to Geneva five times to fight these unfair U.S. labelling regulations.

“We won nearly three years ago years ago; the U.S. introduced a new system in May, 2013, which is even worse for Canadian livestock exports. The U.S. lost again but appealed almost immediately,” Bergmann says.

The regulations are costing Canada’s hog farmers about $1 billion per year because U.S. packers are reluctant to bid on Canadian hogs whose pork must be segregated throughout processing so the required labels can be applied.

Mexico has also complained.

“Notwithstanding three losses, the U.S. prefers to litigate and stall,” says the Canadian Pork Council in a news release.

“It has refused to remove the discrimination in COOL while it admits that there continues to be a detrimental effect.”

Bergmann says “the blatant protectionism and intransigence of the U.S. position was clear throughout the hearings.

“We believe that the appellate body, which asked very penetrating questions to all parties, should now bring this to a final result.”

Bergman said “the Government of Canada has been very helpful, including warnings that U.S. failure to make changes to be WTO consistent could result in retaliation against U.S. exports to Canada.

“We hope that it does not come to this – we want our U.S. market back. But justice delayed is justice denied and we have waited much too long.”

The pork council and the Canadian Cattlemen's Association have been coordinating with the Government of Canada to remove the inequities of the U.S. COOL regime.

Beef producers have been losing about $600 million a year. Both estimates were developed by agriculture economists hired by the farm organizations.