U.S. Country-of-Origin Legislation (COOL) took effect in March 2009. Canada’s exports of live animals for finishing and slaughter then dropped dramatically. This month’s Second Look columnist, Ontario Pork’s Patrick O’Neil, examines the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process that ensued. Although the matter is complex, O’Neil says one of the issues that could influence the outcome is a letter written by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in February 2009, which contained a threat of tougher regulations unless meat processors held themselves up to a higher standard than that outlined in the initial rule. You can see O’Neil’s analysis on our back page.
But if you think regulations are challenging here in Ontario, consider what Manitoba producers are facing. Almost two decades ago, it was hard to find a pork trade show anywhere in the world that didn’t have a Manitoba government exhibition extolling the advantages of pork production in that province.
In the past 10 years, however, Manitoba has introduced at least 40 new regulations affecting the industry, and more are on the way. Their marketing system has also changed and we occasionally hear talk about this affecting Ontario. Two years ago, Manitoba Pork Marketing began a merger with Saskatchewan’s SPI marketing group to create Hog Administrative Marketing Services and, although leaders there play it down, they don’t rule out the possibility they could open a satellite office in Ontario.
To discover whether there are any lessons to be learned from the Manitoba experience, we sent reporter Mary Baxter to meet with the province’s producers and industry leaders.
Her cover story begins on page 6.