Last month the World Trade Organization Appellate Body upheld a November 2011 Dispute Settlement Panel ruling that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling discriminates against imported livestock and is inconsistent with US trade obligations.
The US now has 15 months to bring the legislation into compliance or face retaliatory tariffs.
Canadian Meat Council president Ray Price says, since the introduction of M-COOL in 2008, it's been a difficult time especially for producers.
Ray Price-Canadian Meat Council
The ability for unfettered movement of pigs across the United States border into the United States has made it so that there's a lot less pigs moving there both for slaughter and as isoweans and feeder pigs because they were discriminated against and actually discounted in the market place.
Lots of producers from what I understand have gone out of business over that time frame and certainly from a pork processor standpoint it's also impacted in that different markets are handling things different ways and any time you have a change of rules that aren't market related it causes confusion in the market and that's never good.
I think from the Canadian position, country of origin labels being voluntary rather than mandatory and then that way the market place can decide whether or not it's important for them to be consuming the type of meat that they want from an origin perspective.
We believe that in the United States there's certainly people that would prefer to buy American and that's fine.
There's certainly people that think that Canada and the US is an integrated market, that there's not much if any difference and they would buy what ever is the best quality at the right value.
Mr Price suggests a voluntary labelling system is the way to go but Canada will just have to wait and see what will actually happen.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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