Saskatchewan premier hopeful U.S. meat-labelling law will be repealed

REGINA – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says proposed U.S. legislation that would repeal a meat-labelling law is great news.

The province has long campaigned to get rid of mandatory country-of-origin labelling, known as COOL, on beef and pork.

“It’s such a complicated legislative process to try to navigate in the interest of any particular outcome,” Wall said Wednesday.

“This outcome, the repeal of COOL, is what we wanted and you know, we’re not home yet, but we’re really close and so I think this is hopeful.”

The labelling law is blamed for reducing Canadian cross-border meat exports by half and costing the Canadian beef and pork industries $1 billion per year.

The premier says repealing the law would increase beef and pork exports and have an almost immediate impact on Canadian producers.

The reference to meat labels is part of expansive funding legislation that still needs to pass both chambers of Congress and get signed by the president.

“No one wants to jinx anything because we’ve seen some filibusters in the Senate … but I think people are optimistic that this is going to get all the way home,” said Wall.

U.S. rules on country-of-origin labels were introduced in 2002 and have been enforced since 2008.

Proponents says it’s a fair way of letting consumers know where their food comes from.

Opponents say it’s disguised protectionism and irrelevant to food safety because there are already inspections.

Some U.S. companies have said they can’t afford to sort, label and store meat from Canada differently than meat from domestic animals.

Canada and Mexico have been set to impose more than $1 billion in punitive measures on a wide range of U.S. goods if COOL isn’t repealed.