Canadian Ag Minister Offers Fix for COOLWed, 27 Aug 2014 12:05:53 CDT
The US beef industry continues to wait on a ruling from the World Trade Organization regarding Country and Origin Labeling. That decision on the revised COOL rule has already been handed down to three governments - Canada, Mexico and the United States. The WTO will make the ruling public in September. If in deed Canada and Mexico prevail, meaning the US loses, how should the situation be made right?
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm News Director Ron Hays asked that question to Gerry Ritz, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture earlier this month at Cattle Industry Convention in Denver, Colo. In finding a workable solution that will still provide Americans with the information that COOL provides while not hurting Canadian and Mexican producers, Ritz said there is a solution. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear today's Beef Buzz.
"When its mandatory it creates that segregation and discriminatory price system," Ritz said. "If you do a voluntary label, which we do in Canada under product of Canada, you don't have that trade sanctioned problem."
Ritz said he is looking for a voluntary solution rather that the current mandatory program.
"As I have said all along, its a political response to a problem that does not exist," Ritz said.
Ritz said an ideal outcome would be total repeal of the COOL legislation. At the Cattle Industry Summer Convention, Ritz said the US Department of Agriculture's Chief Economist recognized there was no quantifiable benefit to consumers, but there is quantifiable reputable hurt to the industry, both Canadian and American. Ritz is confident there is a workable win-win solution for all parties. He believes a voluntary effort can work for consumers in this country. Also having a united front internationally makes a lot of sense for North America.
"We're facing huge competition from North American against major competitors like Australia, like Argentina, like Brazil into some of these emerging marketplaces," Ritz said. "We need capacity, we need the ability to move forward from the integrated North American platform."
One solution be bringing back an idea from end of the Bush Administration of having a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) label. Ritz said this would recognize the integration of the North American market, but he believes the industry does not mandatory legislation.
"We want to see that process defined leading to repeal and leading to a time frame that is well established," Ritz said. "If it just a Band-Aid solution to get through midterms, we are not interested in that."
That will take place down the line, in the meantime the US continues to wait to hear what the WTO has to say about the revised COOL rule.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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