Canadian shepherds fear that the United States will retain its Country-of-Origin labeling restrictions for sheep when they scrap them for cattle and hogs.
The American Sheep Industry has apparently successfully lobbied to have politicians keep the COOL regulations for them.
Ray Baynton of CKNX radio and television in Wingham spoke with Canadian Sheep Federation vice-chairman Rob Scott who says the industry estimates it has lost up to about $300 million dollars since 2003 because of trade problems with the U.S.
A cow that died of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow’s disease) in Alberta that year prompted the U.S. to ban all sheep and cattle from Canada.
Then came Country of Origin Labeling which makes it expensive for U.S. packing plants to buy Canadian sheep because they must be processed separately for accurate labelling.
Scott recently met with Bruce-Grey Conservative MP Larry Miller in Ottawa to discuss the situation.
He says it’s been a great lesson for the sheep industry, showing the sector needs to increase its profile with the public and with government, reports Baynton.
The Federation has started a letter-writing campaign to make the government aware of its concerns over COOL.
According to Scott, the sector has gone from a cottage industry to a commodity with a large potential for growth over the past 15 years.
But he argues they need access to the U-S as an alternative market to continue to foster that growth.