Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Canada, Mexico, file for retaliation over COOL

Canada and Mexico filed their applications for retaliatory tariffs on United States goods today in Geneva.

They made their filing at the World Trade Organization because the United States has not yet scrapped its Country of Origin Labeling requirements for meat.

The World Trade Organization has ruled four times that the COOL regulations are a violation of U.S. trade treaty obligations.

Canadian cattle and hogs must be slaughtered separately and their meat tracked through segregated processing in order to comply with COOL, so meat packers won’t pay full price for livestock born in Canada and Mexico.

That costs Canadian farmers close to $2 billion a year because the price for all their livestock has been depressed.

While U.S. politicians have introduced bills to scrap COOL, so far they have not passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Even if they do, they would still need a signature from President Barack Obama.

The leader of the National Pork Council in the U.S. said Tuesday that repeal of COOL is the only acceptable solution. After losing the first World Trade Organization case, the U.S. amended its regulations, but made matters even worse and lost that second round.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that we’re not desperate,” said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

“We want the right fix. We’re not looking for just any compromise, any kind of middle path.

“We’re seven years into this issue. We’ve spent more than three-and-a-quarter million of producers’ checkoff money on legal fees and advocacy to fight this thing.

“It’s cost [cattle and hog producers] over $3 million per year since May 2013 when USDA made this worse instead of fixing it. So we haven’t come through all of this just to settle for half a loaf at this point.”

Canada will seek about $2.4 billion in tariffs per year on a list of U.S. products to include beef and pork. Mexico will seek some $713 million in tariffs per year on a list of U.S. exports that country has yet to officially name, though it likely will include meat.