Canadian agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said his country is serious about seeking retaliatory tariffs if the United States fails to change its country-of-origin meat labelling law (COOL).
Ritz said there's a small window of opportunity before the end of the year' for the U.S. Congress to get it right' and amend COOL. And he offered to come to Washington next week, when both the House and Senate will be in session, to press his case for a COOL amendment in a new farm bill that is being fought over in a conference committee.
Acting on a challenge from Canada and Mexico, a WTO panel has already found that COOL amounts to disguised protectionism in violation of trade agreements. Ritz said the rules, which require labels to say where the animal that produced the meat came from, is costing Canada's livestock producers about Can$1 bill. a year.
WTO regulations allow countries to impose retaliatory tariffs in such cases and Ritz earlier had said any levies could go beyond beef and pork imports from the U.S. Tyson Foods Inc. in October said it had stopped buying slaughter-ready cattle from Canada due to higher costs associated with the labelling law.
However, during a panel at the 2013 Farm Journal Forum in Washington, National Farmers Union (NFU) Vice President of Government Affairs Chandler Goule emphasised his support for COOL. He said the farmers he represents want consumers to have information on where their meat was born, raised and slaughtered. Additionally, he maintained that the new labelling rules that went into effect last month are already being implemented and are reformed to be WTO compliant.
Source: Canadian mnistry of agriculture