© Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
Visitors to David and Carla MacDonald’s operation on Open Farm Day got to meet some young pigs.
Canada’s new minister of agriculture says the United States must fully repeal country of origin labelling on beef and pork or major trade retaliations will be implemented.
And expectations that the U.S. is on the verge of finally removing a cumbersome trade impediment will be a big win for P.E.I. beef producers and the Atlantic Beef plant in Borden-Carleton.
It will not only provide new markets for the Island plant, but could very well affect prices in a positive way.
“The bottom line is country of origin labelling (COOL) must be repealed or we will retaliate,’’ confirmed federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who is also the MP for Cardigan.
“I’m very pleased to see steps are being taken towards this goal.”
Canada and Mexico have challenged country of origin labelling before the World Trade Organization (WTO) on four different occasions and have always won.
The WTO is preparing to authorize retaliation permission to Canada and Mexico by Friday.
Meanwhile, the United States drafted legislation to fully repeal the labelling with beef and pork included.
However, the final American decision heads to a vote before the House of Representatives and Senate later this week.
It is estimated that COOL in place since 2008 - has cost Canadian farmers $1 billion.
WTO authorization would allow Canada and Mexico to launch a billion dollar retaliation effort on more than 30 American goods from meat products to wine.
MacAulay said COOL discriminates against Canadian farmers and noted that many allies in the U.S. also want the trade impediment repealed.
The trade restriction was argued by the U.S. as a way to help consumers make better food choices.
“COOL disrupts the highly integrated North American supply chain,’’ he said. “And I am cautiously optimistic that trade on beef and pork will be restored.”
P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture executive director Robert Godfrey said if approved, the repeal of COOL is a big win for Island producers who access the American market.
“The beef market has always been north/south and south/north and COOL has been nothing but a hindrance and a protectionist way of keeping our product out,’’ he said. “P.E.I. is a big player in the U.S. market.”
Godfrey said Island beef producers and the P.E.I. beef plant will have excellent opportunities to ship at more competitive rates once COOL is gone.