Ritz pleased with MCOOL ruling


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November 6, 2014 11:02 AM

Another win in the Canadian column has the federal agriculture minister happy with the chances that the United States will soon overturn the controversial mandatory country of origin labelling (MCOOL).

Gerry Ritz said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source that last month’s verdict from the World Trade Organization was a much needed boost for the country in fighting MCOOL.

“This was fantastic news for agricultural producers in the country, and this is strike three for the Americans, even as they appeal the decision they are finding out that this isn’t acceptable trade policy,” he said.

Ritz said that the Canadian government has been trying to underscore that the MCOOL would be harmful both north and south of the border, and now with the decision from the WTO, the position of the Canadian government has been increased.

“We have been right and the WTO has underscored the position of the government, and now the United States government has one last appeal,” Ritz said.

The minister said that the U.S. government has been punting this around, and he believes that it chalks up to Tuesday’s mid-term elections.

“It’s simply a political move, and has nothing to do with good trade policy, and nothing to do with labelling,” he said.

“(Politicians in the United States) think that this would save small farms.” Ritz says that is not the case.

Overall, Ritz said that he couldn’t be happier about the outcome at the WTO.

“We have to get this completed and we want to make sure that this would allow our farmers to get their product to market,” he said.

As to what a timeline would be for getting MCOOL overturned, Ritz said that the next meeting of the WTO would be on Nov. 18.

“We are hopeful that we can get it on that agenda, but the Americans are hoping to kick it down the road until the January meeting, so it’s up to us to get this on the agenda,” he added.

Ritz said that he has had numerous conversations about MCOOL with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“I have spoken to him in this regards and numerous other issues that we are working on together, but it’s hard to get the trans-Pacific partnership going, when your partner keeps kicking you in the backside,” said Ritz.

According to the U.S. government, “The mandatory country-of-origin law became effective on Sept. 30, 2008.

This law requires retailers selling fresh and enhanced meat products to identify the country of origin where the source animals were born, raised and harvested. “This law requires the packers like us to have sufficient information or documentation to substantiate the claim “Product of the USA.” In other words, we will be required to verify that the animal was born and raised in the United States.”

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