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News 364 views last update:Oct 10, 2007

Canadian pork sector opposes US

Canadian beef and pork producers have called on Ottawa to oppose the US plan for country of origin labels and tracking rules on beef and pork products.

According to the Canadian Cattleman's Association and the Canadian Pork Council, the labelling plan would not violate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, but would result in extra costs of CAN $500 million (US $505 million) per year.

Special labels
The labelling, which is planned to come into effect in September, would require US importers of Canadian cattle and pigs to slaughter them separately from US animals. The packaging of the meat would be labelled with 'From Canada and the United States'. For animals born in the US, the label would read 'Product of the USA'.


The Canadians naturally fear that slaughterhouses and supermarkets will cease purchasing Canadian animals due to the inconvenience and cost involved.

Violation of agreement
John Masswohl, spokesman for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said "we believe very strongly that this violates the United States' trade obligations to Canada."


Ottawa is being called upon by Canadian groups to lobby US senators to prevent the law from passing. An official challenge cannot be launched by the federal government until the law comes into force.


Executive director of the Canadian Pork Council, Martin Rice, commented that it would be better for Ottawa to fight the law before it comes into effect and not after as this could take years.


He believes that, "They should be fighting it over the next few weeks, it is a disaster. Many in the US meat industry have acknowledged that this is not about food safety, but rather about making it harder for consumers to purchase products from outside the US."


Formally opposed
No Agriculture Canada officials were available for comment. However, the government has formally opposed the plan in writing to the US government.


Masswohl believes that this is not enough. He stated that the federal officials "acknowledge the importance of this issue and have spoken to their counterparts about it, but they need to do more."


Related websites:
• Canadian Cattlemen's Association
• Canadian Pork Council


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