Canada rejects US origin label plans

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Canada's agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has threatened retaliatory tariffs if US origin labelling proposals go ahead
Canada's agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has threatened retaliatory tariffs if US origin labelling proposals go ahead

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Canada has rejected plans for the US to introduce voluntary labelling legislation calling it a “short-sighted” proposal. 

Canada’s agriculture minister Gerry Ritz has warned it will move forward with sanctions if the country fails to resolve the issues around country-of-origin labelling (COOL).

The US approach requires all beef, pork and chicken to be labelled with the country of origin. However, Ritz believes the move continues to significantly disrupt the North American supply chain and adds additional costs to producers both sides of the borders.

In May 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled for the fourth time that the US’s mandatory COOL law violates international trade agreements.

US senators John Hoeven and Debbie Stabenow, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, have introduced the Voluntary COOL and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015.

Voluntary labelling

The measure is designed to prevent retaliatory trade sanctions by Canada and Mexico, yet still allow voluntary labelling of beef, pork and chicken that is produced in the US.

“Retaliatory tariffs won’t just impact meat producers and processors, but will also affect consumers, businesses and jobs, so senator Stabenow and I have developed a solution that should work for all of them,”​ Hoeven said.

“We cannot put ourselves in a position where Canada and Mexico can retaliate against us for mandatory country-of-origin labelling, but we can have a voluntary labelling program and still meet WTO requirements.”


Stabenow said: “If consumers in Canada have the right to know where their food comes from through a voluntary labelling process, then American consumers should have the same.”

However, Canada’s agriculture minister Gerry Ritz said: “Senators Hoeven and Stabenow’s proposal in no way reflects Canada’s voluntary labelling regime – any suggestion of this is blatantly false. ‎A voluntary regime as they propose does not require legislation.

“Should the US move forward with their short-sighted proposal, Canada will have no choice but to impose billions of dollars of retaliatory tariffs on US exports.

“By continuing the segregation of and discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs, senators Hoeven and Stabenow’s proposed measure will continue to harm farmers, ranchers, packers, retailers and consumers. It will cost American families thousands of jobs, and guarantee Canadian retaliation.”

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