Retaliation threatened over meat labelling

WASHINGTON — A Canada-U.S. trade war is apparently looming as Ottawa threatens “retaliatory measures” against the United States in a continuing dispute over meat labelling.

WASHINGTON — A Canada-U.S. trade war is apparently looming as Ottawa threatens “retaliatory measures” against the United States in a continuing dispute over meat labelling.

The U.S. government announced new regulations Thursday on “country-of-origin labelling” (COOL) that would track cattle and hogs right from the farm to meat processing and distribution systems.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. agriculture secretary, said the new rules are aimed at resolving the tense trade dispute between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“USDA remains confident that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the mandatory COOL requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations,” he said in a statement.

But Canada sees little evidence in the new rules of any serious attempt by Americans to resolve the issue. And one trade expert suggests the USDA is actually escalating the dispute.

“Canada is extremely disappointed with the regulatory changes put forward by the United States today,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a joint release.

The ministers said the U.S. regulations will not bring the Americans into compliance with last year’s ruling by the World Trade Organization, which found the labelling system discriminated against foreign livestock and was not consistent with U.S. trade agreements.

“Canada will consider all options at its disposal, including, if necessary, the use of retaliatory measures,” said the release.

Indeed, Canadian officials were rumoured to be drawing up a “retaliation list” of U.S. products, setting the stage for a full-fledged trade war.

Earlier Thursday, Ritz addressed the issue while on a trade mission in Kazakhstan.

“Even their own industry has come forward and said this is going to cost them hundreds of millions of dollars as well to comply, so we are analyzing what they come forward with,” he said on a conference call.

“Of course the next step is to go back to the WTO. That will take a month or two as the Americans try to sell what they come forward with and we try to convince the WTO that it is completely off the mark.”

In addition to fighting the U.S. move, Ritz said Canada must focus on finding new markets for its meat products.

“As the Americans are making their market tougher for us to get into, then it is incumbent on governments to get out around the world and start putting more market share in other than the American market.”

The NDP urged the government to stand firm on the issue.

“New Democrats believe that fair, robust trade rules are critical to the success of our industries,” Don Davies, the party’s trade critic, said in a news release.

“The government must step up and protect these important sectors.”

Under the new regulations, the U.S. government now requires even more detail on meat labels on the origins of beef, pork and chicken sold in American grocery stores.

Labels will include such information as “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States” for American meat. Cuts of meat from other countries could carry labels such as “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

Canada has long objected to the labelling system on the grounds that it’s costly, burdensome and is leading to the “disintegration” of the North American supply chain.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada’s oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Pandemic increased direct aid to fossil fuel producers, new study shows

At least $1.9 billion in direct aid to traditional energy sector last year

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read