Saturday, September 18, 2010

Canadian Farmers Challenge U.S. Labelling Requirements at WTO

(Bridges Weekly)

Canada is challenging the U.S.’s country-of-origin labelling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlements Body (DSB). The Canadian government, backed by several business groups – including some from the U.S., claims that the implementation of COOL requirements is immensely costly forcing Canadian businesses to seek less money for their beef so as to absorb the cost of implementing the requirement. They maintain that COOL is a technical barrier to trade (TBT) and as such illegal under WTO law.

“The COOL measure is not intended to address health or safety concerns,” Canada said in its opening statement. “The objective of the COOL measure was to distort the conditions of competition in the U.S. market to favour U.S. cattle and hogs compared to imported livestock.”

The COOL act requires that consumers be informed of the country of origin of meat by a label on the sales package. To receive an “A” label, cattle must be born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States. Meat from cattle with a mixed life – for example, born and raised in Canada but slaughtered in the U.S. – must have a label indicating the mix. Read more here.