Canadian Ag Minister, Gerry Ritz Turns up the Heat with U.S. Congress to End COOL Dis


COOL isn’t so cool for Canadian livestock producers.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz continues to pressure U.S. Congress to put an end to the U.S. Country of Origin Labelling dispute, also known as COOL.

This week Ritz met with American lawmakers, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, in Washington D.C. to talk about COOL. The expanded version of the COOL policy will come into effect Saturday with new requirements that will hurt Canadian livestock producers. COOL was first introduced in 2008, but an expanded version was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May of 2013, and was put on hold until now.

The 2013 version requires meat products to be labelled to include information on where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The rule also forbids the common industry practice of “comingling” meat cuts. U.S. meat packers argue that they can’t afford to sort, label and store meat from Canada differently than meat from the United States.

Ritz maintains that the most effective solution to COOL lies with the Farm Bill. Congress is currently negotiating a new Farm Bill; an amendment to the bill could repeal COOL. To date, several World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges have ruled in favour of Canada. Minister Ritz has said Canada will consider further legal challenges, including retaliatory trade restrictions against certain U.S. products.