Minister Ritz heads to Washington

by Erica Shaffer
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OTTAWA, Ontario – Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and a delegation of industry stakeholders are traveling to Washington to reinforce the Canada's opposition to the United States' country of origin labeling rule. The delegation will bring their message to key industry coalitions and newly elected members of Congress.

The delegation includes representatives from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council.

"Canada continues to call upon the US to comply with the WTO ruling and eliminate COOL's discriminatory treatment against Canadian hogs and cattle," Ritz said in a statement. "Our government will always stand with our farmers and ranchers, and we will not shy away from taking whatever steps may be necessary, including retaliation, to achieve a fair resolution."

Canada is prepared to implement retaliatory tariffs if the US doesn't change COOL, and Mexico is likely to follow suit. The Obama administration appealed the latest World Trade Organization ruling against COOL in November 2014. A WTO panel found requiring companies to list the country-of-origin of beef and other meats is discriminatory.

After the ruling, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the US Department of Agriculture would need "different directions" from Congress that would satisfy the WTO while remaining consistent with US policy.

Total agricultural trade between Canada and the US totaled $44 billion in 2013.
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