KAP welcomes WTO ruling on COOL law
QMI Agency... Karl Kynoch (left), chair of the Manitoba Pork Council, discusses new commitments expected of pork producers as Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, listens. Chorney welcome the WTO's ruling on the COOL law.
Doug Chorney, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers, welcomed a WTO ruling on the U.S Country of Origin Labelling law (COOL), a law passed in 2008 which unfairly scrutinized Canadian products.
"This is a welcome finding. We certainly are pleased for the sake of our beef and hog producers. This is going to be very important but we have to be cautiously optimistic because it still requires the appeal process to be not invoked by the U.S. They have 50 days to choose to appeal or not appeal," said Chorney.
The WTO's ruling found that Canadian products were treated less favourably than U.S. products; created unnecessary obstacles for international trade and did not fulfill a legitimate objective.
In 2002, the U.S. introduced a farm bill which created new mandatory labelling requirements for products such as beef, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables, and peanuts that would be sold in U.S retail stores.
The Manitoba government, in conjunction with the federal government, argued that these laws defied WTO agreements; however, the law was made official in 2008 and harmed Canadian live-animal exports.
According to the Manitoba Pork Council, Chorney said that "the price that farmers received in some cases when down to nothing."
"When you add freight to the purchase price and farmers had no choice but to do shipping which is not sustainable. Farmers and businesses fail because of that. There were one-million market hogs being shipped to the U.S and but later declined by 50 per cent," he added.
What's more, Agriculture minister Stan Struthers said in a release that in 2007, 4.5-million feeder pigs provided $191 million while slaughter pigs relinquished close to $178 million.
But when COOL was implemented, Manitoba hog and cattle exports sharply dropped and Struthers said that this continues to be the case.
In the first year, the exports of slaughter hogs declined 64 per cent compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, a 19 per cent drop in exports was reported for feeder pigs.
"Manitoba hog producers were affected even more than anybody else because they were so integrated with the U.S market. It was a big impact," Chorney said.
KAP hopes the WTO's favourable ruling will bring about the elimination of trade impediments between Canada and the US and the unnecessary costs producers and exporters have been burdened with under COOL.
"It's a wait and see game at this point. We know that our North American supply chain is highly integrated so it's important to U.S farmers as well because a lot of them access feedstock out of Manitoba because of the high quality and the success they've had in the past so definitely it's important to Canadian and American farmers, and processors. They want to have a good inventory for their slaughter capacity as well," said Chorney.
The KAP is also hoping that the government continues to lobbying on the issue, saying their critical work on this issue will help to secure export markets for Manitoban producers.
"We're pleased with the support the government has given for market access, because Canadian farmers are very dependent on export markets for all commodities," Chorney said. "We thank the federal government for its continued efforts in the challenge against COOL and we appreciate this win it has achieved."