Canada has decided to take its issue with the U.S. country-of-origin-labelling rules (also known as COOL) to the World Trade Organization.
On Dec. 1 International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz announced Canada is asking for consultations regarding COOL under the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement process.
Some background. The mandatory country labelling of all beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat meat and “certain perishable commodities” sold in U.S. stores was implemented on Sept. 30, 2008 as an interim final rule (this, according to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, means there is a “six-month non enforcement transition period.”)
So essentially, in order for these products to be considered a product of the U.S., each stage of their growth and processing has to have occurred on U.S. soil, or in the case of fish or shellfish, which were covered under earlier legislation, U.S. waters. Otherwise, for example, if a cow was born in Canada but raised and slaughtered in the States, the label of the sirloin cut that comes from the cow must now indicate its path from Canada to the U.S.
Canada’s issue with the COOL rules, also according to DFAIT, is this:
“Canada is concerned that the legislative requirement to separate products into three categories based on the country or countries where they were produced will impose additional costs at each stage of the process (for example, feedlots, processing and packing, and retail). Processors, for instance, may need to segregate animals at their facilities, which will generate additional costs. These additional costs could create a disincentive to purchasing Canadian animals. Processors may choose not to buy Canadian animals or may buy them at a discounted price.”