CANADA — Canadian trade officials said yesterday that more recent provisions in the final U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling rule will help level the playing field for Canadian producers and will strengthen the integrated North American livestock industry. The U.S. and Canada represent each other’s largest agricultural trading partners. In 2007, bilateral agricultural trade totaled $32.3 billion.

Changes to the final COOL rule will help to keep livestock trade moving throughout the integrated North American market and will benefit producers, consumers and processors, said Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

Specifically, the final regulations allow for more flexibility on U.S. labeling requirements for meat from animals of American and Canadian origin that are combined during a production run. Canada has repeatedly raised concerns that COOL could impose unfair costs by requiring the segregation of Canadian animals.

"I am pleased that key issues raised by Canada are addressed in these measures," Mr. Day said.

"These final regulations will help to address the concerns we’ve consistently raised with our American counterparts, and we will continue to work with the U.S. to prevent any unfair harm to our industry," added Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Canada and the U.S. recently participated in formal consultations under the World Trade Organization regarding the adverse impact of the interim regulatory measures on Canadian livestock and meat producers. Canada said it will continue to monitor the situation and defend Canadian producers through discussions and representations to the U.S. at all levels.

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