by SUSAN MANN
The Canadian federal government continues to pressure American legislators to repeal the mandatory Country of Origin Labelling law.
This week, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz along with Alberta Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson and Canadian livestock industry officials were in Washington D.C. During a telephone press conference Thursday afternoon, Ritz says he met with a number of key players in the American Senate and House of Representatives “to end this discriminatory law.”
Ritz described the meetings with American legislators as positive. American legislators are currently working on a new U.S. Farm Bill and Canadian representatives have said the U.S. should repeal the labelling law in the bill.
Each day country of origin labelling is in place there are lost or discounted sales opportunities “for our hard-working Canadian livestock producers,” Ritz says.
Ritz adds he told American Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the Unites States must comply with its trading obligations and fix the mandatory labelling law once and for all.
“Our message remains the same - with the integration of the North American market, it’s in the best interests of both Americans and Canadians to fix” country of origin labelling, Ritz says. “It’s a broken record, but we’ll keep playing it until we get some positive action from the United States administration.”
A Canadian Pork Council news release dated today says Canadian hog farmers have suffered massive economic hardship as American food distributors don’t want to deal with “a multitude of different origin labels.” Swine and beef export losses have totaled more than $1 billion annually since country of origin labelling became mandatory in the fall 2008.
The Washington meetings follow others that were held in Chicago two weeks ago, Ritz says, to meet with the American livestock and meat industry representatives. At that time, Ritz says he assured industry leaders Canada would continue pressuring the United States to repeal the labelling law.
Not everyone in the United States agrees. A National Farmers Union (no connection to the organization in Canada) press release dated Nov. 5 says, “recent threats by the Canadian Agriculture Minister are unjustified and out of line. As a sovereign nation, we should not take direction from Canada.” BF
(with files from Better Farming staff)
Ritz can bluff and bluster all he wants, but the US can, and will, do exactly what it wants with COOL, in exactly the same way we do it to the US with supply management.
It's Ritz who sounds like a "broken record" when he talks about integrated North American markets, yet studiously defends our supply management system which integrates nothing.
Anyone who thinks that COOL has no relationship to the US being fed up to the teeth with four decades of crap from Canada about closed borders for dairy and poultry products, is dreaming in technicolour.
Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON
Funny thing how it has taken the US over 4 decades to offer some fight back against Supply Management and then they miss their mark and hit the Canadian Pork and Beef guys.
It will probably take the Canadian politicians 4 decades to actually do some sort of mild retaliation,in the mean time its strictly hot air coming from Mr. Ritz
Post new comment