U.S. country-of-origin labelling laws continue to put a chill on the Manitoba pork industry, the general manager for Manitoba Pork told the Manitoba Swine Seminar.
“COOL is a big deal,” Andrew Dickson said. “We had hoped that the export of weanlings into the United States would have tapered off; it is not indicated this has happened.”
The 2010 numbers from Manitoba live hog exports to the United States are not yet finalized, but Dickson says they are expected to be the same or lower from 2009.
In 2009, 480,000 hogs were shipped to slaughter to the U.S. and 3.3 million weanlings were exported to the U.S. Slaughter hog shipments were down 56 per cent and wean-ling shipments were down 24 per cent from 2008.
Canada and Mexico have launched a complaint to the U.S. to the World Trade Organization panel over COOL. The three panelists are from Switzerland, Portugal and Pakistan.
After a hearing in September and another one in December, the WTO should be making its final decision sometime in July 2011.
“The World Trade Organization will try and get the countries to come to an agreement on how to do business within a structure of what they signed under the General Agreement of Trades and Tariffs,” said Dickson. “This is an area the WTO has never ruled on in a major way before.”
Dickson said that although industry insiders don’t disagree with COOL, they don’t like how the United States is using it as a tool to distort trade, which he says is not fair for Canadian producers. “They can market their product in our country; we want to do so in the same capacity in theirs.”
Until the final decision is made from the WTO, there has not and will not be talk about implementing a COOLlike system in Canada. “We will wait and see what happens and go from there,” said Dickson.
– ANDREW DICKSON, GENERAL MANAGER FOR MANITOBA PORK