Agriculture minister says time running short for U.S. to fix meat label law

Canada’s agriculture minister says time is running short for the U.S. to avoid trade tariffs over its discriminatory meat labelling laws.

Canada’s agriculture minister says time is running short for the U.S. to avoid trade tariffs over its discriminatory meat labelling laws.

Gerry Ritz said if Washington doesn’t change its country of origin labelling laws to comply with World Trade Organization rulings in the coming months, Canada will apply as early as the summer to impose retaliatory tariffs on a long list of U.S. goods including beef, orange juice and wine.

“The clock is ticking and the American administration knows it,” Ritz said in an interview.

Last month, the United States filed its final appeal of a WTO ruling that found its meat labelling laws, known as COOL, discriminate against Canadian beef and pork exports.

COOL rules require all packaged meat to identify where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

Supporters of the law say it better informs U.S. consumers, but opponents argue that segregating animals and tracking them adds costs and violates free-trade agreements.

The federal government estimates the policy costs Canada’s pork and beef industries more than $1 billion a year.

Ritz said Canada expects a ruling by the WTO on the U.S. appeal by the middle of 2015. If Washington loses again and fails to act, Canada will seek permission from the trade organization to hit back.

“We are being told that some time late spring or early summer we will have a pretty good direction as to where that is going to go,” Ritz said. “We will start lobbying very hard at the WTO to initiate the retaliatory process.”

So far the U.S. response to the latest trade ruling has Canada’s beef industry wondering if Washington can fix COOL in time.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been quoted as saying the Obama administration needs direction from Congress on what to do with the meat-labelling legislation.

At the same time, Congress has asked Vilsack for a report by May 1 on what changes need to be made to COOL to comply with the WTO.

John Masswohl, a spokesman for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said such last minute back-and-forth doesn’t give the Americans much time to act.

“U.S. exporters to Canada should remain concerned as Congress is flirting dangerously close to the timeline for the WTO to authorize Canada and Mexico to implement retaliatory tariffs,” he said.

Masswohl said the beef industry in Canada will not be satisfied if Washington simply tinkers with COOL. He said producers want it repealed.

Ritz said Canada made it clear last year that it is prepared to retaliate with trade sanctions if Washington doesn’t comply with the WTO ruling and has reinforced the point many times since.

He said the federal government won’t hesitate to act and may add more items to the trade sanction list that already includes pork, cheese, apples, corn, maple syrup, chocolate, pasta, jewelry and mattresses.

“We have the ability to add to it should we need to put pressure on a state, senator or congressman. We are serious,” Ritz said.

“At the end of the day you can be assured that we are not going to blink.”

Just Posted

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

Human waste ‘backlog’ from Red Deer to be spread on farmers’ fields this spring

Council approved $1 million to compensate for loss of crops

Red Deer city council tries to find more cost-savings

Many spending proposals are queried, discussed

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Red Deer man sentenced for child porn

Man sentenced to one year in prison after being arrested in major anti-child pornography operation

Replay Red Deer Jan. 14: Watch news highlights in pictures

Stories mentioned: Red Deer RCMP seize large quantity of cocaine: Read more… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Photo: Chilly work in Veterans’ Park

What a chilly job but somebody has to do it.… Continue reading

Boy, 15, one of three hit in Vancouver shooting

Police believe a man in his 20s was the target of the shooting

UBCO psychology professor placed under supervision with focus on “boundary issues”

Dr. Stephen Porter has stepped aside from his teaching duties

Alberta elementary school teacher arrested on child porn charges

Investigators charged a 44-year-old Pincher Creek man with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography

Report: Health problems could arise as Alaska warms

Climate change in Alaska has the potential to create serious physical and… Continue reading

U.S. cold snap was a freak of nature, quick analysis finds

Consider this cold comfort: A quick study of the brutal American cold… Continue reading

Canadian Kennel Club seeking to add 12 more dogs to its pack

2018’s incoming class could include the Portuguese sheepdog, Tibetan mastiff, rat terrier and Spanish water dog

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month