2012 Farm Bill: Concerns Over Legality Of US M-Cool

US - A US-based Agricultural Economist expects Congress to address concerns over the legality of Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling next year when it writes a new US farm bill, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 30 November 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

Earlier this month a World Trade Organisation Panel investigating complaints from Canada and Mexico over US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling determined the food labelling law, implemented in 2008, discriminates against imported livestock and is inconsistent with US trade obligations.

Dr Ron Plain, an agricultural economics professor with University of Missouri, says the difficult situation has come in the case of imported live animals which are fed out and slaughtered in the United States.

Dr Ron Plain-University of Missouri

It's created a difficult sort of tracking record keeping challenge for livestock producers and for the packing industry to be able to keep the meat from those imported animals separate from the meat from US raised animals.

That has had the impact of a number of US packers who have slaughtered just a small number of Canadian or Mexican born animals, a number of those type of packers have decided just not to slaughter anything but US born animals because it relieves them of the difficult tracking process of trying to keep and separate the meat from foreign born animals that were slaughtered in the US from US born animals slaughtered in the US.

Dr Plain says most US processors would like to see product that comes out of their plants labelled simply "US product" to avoid the record keeping and segregation of the beef and pork based on where the animal was born prior to slaughter but some producers favor maintaining the current rule while others feel it's been more hassle than it's worth.

He suggests, while resolution of this type of dispute is typically a slow process, the US Congress is scheduled to write a new farm bill in 2012 and most likely will deal with the issue at that time.

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