This is what M-COOL is all about
Despite what some say, Canada’s minister of agriculture makes the rounds and most often does the job and is in it long enough to make the rounds more than once.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz concluded his second agricultural mission to Turkey where he participated in the G20 ministerial agricultural meeting.
Here Ritz advocated agricultural innovation, including biotechnology, to increase safe food production, sustainably, and improve farmers’ incomes. He also called on G20 members to support international free trade to ensure producers and processors have the market access needed to feed the world’s growing population. The 20 members adopted a joint communiqué that supports information sharing on agricultural technologies and markets.
When it came to the question and answer period on the world-wide media conference call, the minister spoke to the issue of meeting with the secretary of ag from the United States, Tom Vilsack on the trade negotiations, but this reporter focused on real matters at hand, M-COOL.
This was only days before the WTO was to release the worst kept secret of the U.S. losing the M-COOL yet again.
Ritz responded by saying his U.S. counterpart, Tom Vilsack assured him they will address the Canadian and Mexican concerns M-COOL.
The M-COOL legislation, part of the ‘Farm Bill’ requires retailers to label beef and pork, according to birth, raised, and slaughtered, prompted many U.S. processors to stop using imported product rather than keep it segregated.
“Tom and I had a very candid conversation today here in Istanbul,” said Ritz. “He recognizes now the economic hurt that this is actually doing to his own industry so he’s given instructions to the administration to bring forward a piece of legislation that will either look at a NAFTA label which of course would encompass us or something that would seek to repeal what COOL has done.”
The minister says he’s firmly in the camp of repeal.
“We don’t want the second shoe dropping some three or four years down the road when someone else gets this ridiculous idea,” he said. “Tom is on-board fully now saying we have to work together. We can no longer negate the intricacies of the North American market place so I welcome that change. The epiphany he had on the way to Istanbul I guess was resounding.”
In another article in this issue, I talk about the exporter of Canadian hogs working on behalf of many independent Canadian producers, the Canadian industry may well have to get used to the fact that of shipping into a Canadian market meaning no live hogs south, but processing everything in Canada and selling it as pork and pork products.
Since that infamous 2008 suspension and subsequent tightening up of the M-COOL rule, conservative estimates of losses to the Canadian hog and cattle industries, $1 billion dollars.
That my friends is what this big outcry regarding M-COOL is all about. First the legislation destroyed a once vibrant North American livestock market, one where producers could ship live animals back and forth between Canada, U.S., and Mexico. Secondly, in doing so, it caused horrendous monetary losses, but not to forget the huge emotional upheavals in farms and families across Canada as the lack of slaughter access in the U.S. shrunk the Canadian industry.
Last but not least, with access limited to the U.S., it decreased the competition in Canada because Canadian hog farmers didn’t have that option of going south, but had to take what Canadian processors would give them. As an aside, gathering from what producers tell me, the Canadian processors didn’t go out of their way to take advantage, but in some instances a general progression did lower the Canadian prices.  •