© AgMedia Inc.
by SUSAN MANN
The Canadian government will closely monitor how additional voluntary Country of Origin Labelling requirements being implemented by the United States affect farmers here after they come in next month.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the voluntary requirements last week as part of the Final Rule for Country of Origin Labelling slated to go into effect March 16.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says in a written statement the government “will continue to stand up for the Canadian livestock industry and monitor the situation closely to ensure that Canadian producers are treated fairly according to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World Trade Organization).”
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association has already called on the government to relaunch its WTO trade challenge. Spokesman John Masswohl says the voluntary requirements remove the flexibility American packers are given in the final rule to mix Canadian cattle fed in the U.S. with Canadian cattle fed in Canada and both slaughtered in the U.S.
In his letter to stakeholders in the U.S., Vilsack says all meat needs to be identified with the place where it was born, raised and slaughtered.
Masswohl says Vilsack has essentially told the U.S. industry that “even though the rule gives the flexibility, ‘I don’t want anybody to use it.’ Vilsack is saying he wants everything segregated.”
In addition, the U.S. government plans to audit packers for compliance of the voluntary requirements and if they’re not following them the government will consider making them laws.
Masswohl says they have to wait and see if U.S. packers will use the voluntary rules. It may seem like the new requirements are voluntary but the plan to audit them means they’re really not. BF
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