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Canada’s Ag Minister Reacts to U.S Farm Bill Passage

Ritz Says Canada Will Push Forward With WTO Dispute Over COOL

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Congress passed a new five-year farm bill Tuesday that now awaits President Obama’s stamp of approval.

Canada’s agriculture minister who has been watching closely over the farm bill proceedings says he is disappointed that the country-of-origin, or COOL, meat labeling rule was left intact.

Federal Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, had hoped the U.S. would put an end to the ongoing meat labeling battle by offering a fix in the 2014 farm bill.

“It is extremely unfortunate that US legislators have chosen to turn a blind eye to the hurt COOL is causing Canadian and American livestock producers and the overall North American meat supply chain,” said Ritz.

The measure was first introduced in the 2002 Farm Bill, amended 2008, and took affect in 2009.  It has been a contentious topic for the U.S.’s largest trading partners – Canada and Mexico.

The newest measure, updated in 2013, requires meat products to be labeled separately indicating where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

Canada and Mexico maintain that COOL violates trade commitments by favouring U.S. livestock over imported animals. American livestock groups agree, and had tried to get Congress to remove COOL from the legislation but failed.

The World Trade Organization will hold a dispute hearing on COOL February 18 and 19 in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We will continue to stand up for our industry and our economy by continuing our case at the WTO in two weeks' time,” said Ritz.

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