Minister Devin Dreeshen ‘strongly opposed’ Country of Origin Labels

Alberta government says placing mandatory COOL rules will cost the beef and pork industries billions

Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshen, says he is opposed to the push for mandatory Country of Origin Labels.

Reports from the U.S. House of Representatives state several members are in favour of updating the free-trade agreement between Canada, United Stated and Mexico (CUSMA) to include mandatory Country of Origin Labels (COOL).

A letter from June 25 to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asks for COOL labeling on meat products in an attempts to “improve the revised NAFTA deal.”

“A final NAFTA package must restore the country-of-origin (COOL) meat-labeling program passed by Congress and affirmed by U.S. courts,” the letter states.

Canadian law already states certain food made entirely in another country must indicate its origin.

The Alberta government is in “strong opposition,” saying representative from the United States and Canada spent “nearly a decade fighting for the repeal of COOL on beef and pork products.”

Minister Dreeshen says this policy isn’t something the industry wants to revisit.

“The members of Congress pushing this need to realize it isn’t something industry in Canada or the U.S. want to revisit,” Dreeshen said in a statement.

The old COOL law was repealed in 2015 after the World Trade Organization rules the American-made law violated trade obligations.

Wine, brandy, dairy, honey, fish and seafood, both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat products and maple are all products which are required by Canadian law to have an origin label.

“It isn’t consistent with American trade obligations, and it isn’t good for farmers in either country who want a fair and predictable trade relationship,” said Dreeshen.

The Alberta government says it will increase costs on the meat industry, raising cost on the consumer for beef and pork products.

Specifically, consumers in the United States would see an increase on beef and pork products as a result.

“American and Canadian consumers benefit immensely from the current agricultural trade between our two nations. Raising barriers to that trade is bad for the economies of Canada and the United States,” says Tanya Fir, minister of Economic development, trade and tourism.

COOL was not part of the original NAFTA deal, under the Clinton administration. It was passed during the Bush administration in 2008, and put into effect in 2009.

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