Country-of-origin labeling critics worry about trade retaliation

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014-- Canadian agricultural attaché Mike Hawkins told a small group of young farmers Sunday that the unique integration between Canadian and U.S. livestock supply chains is threatened by U.S. country-of-origin labeling laws, which are currently under World Trade Organization (WTO) review.

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In 2012, the U.S. and Canada had $42 billion in two-way trade.  However, he said COOL could cause discrimination and hurt the Canadian livestock sector by $2 billion a year, “because of the segregation that has to occur in U.S. feedlots.”

“While not the preferred option, we put out list of proposed retaliatory actions,” he said during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher Conference (YF&R) in Virginia Beach. “COOL is reminder of how we have to be mindful of how our supply chains are integrated.”

John Bode of the Corn Refiners Association said his companies are anxious about COOL.  While the corn refiners did not oppose COOL as adamantly as the livestock sector, “we want assurance of compliance,” he told Agri-Pulse in a phone interview last week, expressing disappointment that the farm bill did not address the issue.

Bode said both Mexico and Canada have corn on the trade retaliation lists they threaten to enforce if the COOL continues. 

“We have sales of corn products in excess of $700 million per year,” Bode explained. “It's important to us that the U.S. be recognized as a reliable, lawful trading partner.”

During the YF&R Conference, Smithfield Executive Vice President Robert “Bo” Manly said COOL “is causing tremendous problems with Canada and Mexico. We need to be as open about bringing products in as putting products out.”

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