The United States was required to come into compliance by May 23 with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations in relation to the WTO dispute on its country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations, according to the Canadian Pork Council (CPC).
The fact that the United States has not done so exacerbates discrimination against Canadian livestock exports and has denied much needed stability to Canadian hog producers.
“The new (USDA) rule does nothing to reduce discrimination against Canadian feeder pigs and slaughter hogs,” states Jean-Guy Vincent, CPC’s chair. “The new rule will strip away any flexibility to commingle Canadian and U.S. live swine at processing plants. This will make a very bad situation of the last four years much worse."
The WTO Appellate Body was clear that the discrimination caused by COOL stems from the fact that different requirements for recordkeeping and segregating beef cattle and live swine apply to beef cattle and hogs born in Canada. Beef cattle and hogs born or raised in the United States do not need to be segregated, CPC says. As these labeling requirements are mandatory as required in the legislation, a legislative solution is needed, not tweaking regulations which avoid the real issues and permit discrimination to be continued and exacerbated.
“The United States is gaming the system at our expense; their behavior and the bad faith reflected by the new COOL rule is appalling. This existing measure has cost Canadian live swine and beef cattle producers more than a billion dollars annually. Canada needs to respond forcefully,” says CPC’s Vice Chair Rick Bergmann. “Canadian producers have been going out of business by the hundreds. We cannot wait for another year or more while Washington continues to game the system,” he says.
“This is serious; it is not a game – livelihoods are at stake,” says CPC 2nd Vice Chair Bill Wymenga. “CPC urges the Government of Canada to publish a list of possible retaliation measures, to ensure that the U.S. administration and legislators who promote protection through regulation, realize that there are costs attached to their irresponsible actions which cause widespread damage to their neighbors and most important trading partners.”
The Canadian Pork Council is continuing to work with the Government of Canada and other allies to secure a proper legislative remedy to the devastating discrimination of U.S. mandatory country-of-origin legislation.
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