CALGARY, April 29 /CNW/ - Canadian beef cattle producers received welcome
news from Canada's Minister for International Trade, Stockwell Day, when he
stated during his trip to Washington, D.C. yesterday that Canada will request
new consultations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over mandatory
Country-of-Origin Labelling (mCOOL), in early May.
Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) President, Brad Wildeman, agrees
that Canada needs to take this step and supports Minister Day in taking a
strong position on mCOOL, "It is disappointing that we couldn't reach a
solution with the United States (U.S.) - especially since Canada is the top
buyer of U.S. agriculture exports year after year. But there really seems to
be no other option left for Canada. The CCA and our federal government have
worked hard via diplomatic means and advocacy, but it appears achieving
resolution to this problem isn't very high on the U.S. priority list. It's an
unfortunate situation, but I am pleased that our government is clearly
articulating Canada's position and standing up for our cattle producers."
The CCA's main beef with mCOOL is the U.S. lack of acknowledgement that
the act of transforming a live animal into meat is a substantial operation -
one which should result in the meat acquiring the origin of the country where
the transformation occurs. The costly repercussions resulting from this denial
means many U.S. cattle buyers avoid purchasing Canadian animals to minimize
the expense in managing Canadian cattle separately from U.S.-born animals.
Those Americans that do continue to buy Canadian cattle are offsetting the
extra handling costs by paying less for Canadian cattle than those born in the
CCA Vice President and Foreign Trade Chair, Travis Toews, said, "This
impasse is exactly why we established trade agreements years ago. We've tried
first to mitigate and reason our differences out but ultimately, if the U.S.
continues this disincentive for our cattle, we will have to seek a ruling
under the WTO. My hope is that just initiating this case will cause the U.S.
to reconsider whether this law is worth a battle with their best customer."
As the top export market for U.S. agricultural exports for well over a
decade, in 2008 Canada purchased US$16.2 billion American agriculture and
seafood exports. This translates into nearly US$500 per Canadian consumer.
Canada and Mexico have been the two countries most negatively impacted by
the mCOOL law since it came into effect in September 2008. The CCA estimated
the original impact under the 'interim final rule' amounted to a loss of $90
per head for the period from October 2008 to March 2009. Although interest in
purchasing Canadian cattle has improved after the 'final rule' came into
effect in March, buyers continue to discount prices.
For more information on implications of mCOOL to Canada - U.S. trade of
Canadian cattle and beef, visit our website at www.cattle.ca.
For further information: Sharon Jensen, Communications Manager, (403)
275-8558 or firstname.lastname@example.org