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COOL's Potential Impact on US Livestock Production Becoming Apparent

by 5m Editor
28 April 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1229. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1229

A University of Saskatchewan Agricultural Economist says opposition within the US to mandatory 'country of origin labelling' could either slow or stop the final implementation of the planned legislation.

Voluntary US country of origin labelling guidelines came into effect in October last year and a mandatory system is due to be implemented in September 2004.

Dr. William Kerr says the Americans have started to realize mandatory country of origin labelling will impose enormous costs and place a huge burden on their own agricultural industry.

"This is a very strange situation where the US has actually passed a law that imposes a lot of cost on their own industry in terms of having to prove, in some sense, that every animal sold all the way through the supply chain from hog farms all the way to consumers came from the United States.

In actual fact some of the major problems for them are in the beef cattle industry which has a very long lag between when animals are actually born and when they actually come to slaughter.

Hence, already, there are animals on the ground in the United States that aren't being tracked that, in some sense, won't come to market until the mandatory regime is supposed to come into place.

In other words, they already can't prove that some of the animals that are on the ground in the United States will be product of the United States."

Dr. Kerr says hog and cattle producers in the US have also recognized, while they'll have to incur additional costs, they'll get no benefits from the legislation. He says there is also the possibility of a WTO challenge of the legality of mandatory country of origin labelling.

He says Canada might have a reasonable chance of winning a case but, unfortunately, any challenges will have to wait until the legislation actually has been implemented.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor