Canadian beef producers not COOL with new U.S. law

Within the coming days city merchants and businesses will be embracing our cowboy-heritage as they gear up in preparation to make hay

My goodness, where did May go?

Within the coming days city merchants and businesses will be embracing our cowboy-heritage as they gear up (gussie-up) in preparation to make hay while the sun shines throughout June, for the Williams Lake Stampede. COOL!

What’s COOL, why large caps? It’s the acronym for a controversial U.S. law (Country of Origin Labelling) which makes it mandatory for U.S. retailers to label fresh beef, pork, lamb (processed meats/exempt) fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts on retail shelves with their country-of-origin.

As a Canadian, why should you care?

Because that extra-label leads directly to discrimination of imported Canadian livestock, fruit, vegetables and nuts as it results in higher costs to retailers if they buy ‘Canadian’ as opposed to domestic product and who wants to pay extra?

The numbers show that COOL costs Canadian beef-producers approximately $25 to $40 per head, which adds up to a staggering loss of about $640 million dollars annually in lost revenue.

Needless to say, they are not happy with COOL.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association — President Martin Unrau voiced his group’s extreme frustration (Beef in BC/website) that the U.S. continues to inflict those costs on Canadian producers in spite of a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) requiring the U.S. to bring COOL-requirements into compliance with (the U.S.’s) international obligation, thereby eliminating their discrimination against imported livestock.

The governing body ruled that COOL violates WTO-rules with the requirement that meat produced (in the U.S.) from imported livestock must bear a different label from meat produced from U.S.-born livestock.

This law necessitates segregation which adds extra handling costs that are inflicted disproportionally on imported livestock (discrimination).

The extra costs are picked straight out of Canadian cattlemen’s-pockets, the majority of whom view COOL as downright un-neighbourly!

Their anger (as the U.S. fails to comply with the WTO ruling) has given voice to the demand (to the Canadian government) that retaliatory tariffs be imposed.

Stay tuned!

Liz Twan is a rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.