UPDATE 2-US labeling rules cost Canada hog farmers $2 bln -group

Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:01pm EST
 
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* Canada Pork Council: trade retaliation if no U.S. changes

* Canadian farm minister says too soon to consider tariffs

* WTO ruled U.S. must make changes by May 23, 2013

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 14 (Reuters) - U.S. country-of-origin meat-labeling rules have directly cost Canada's hog and pork industry more than $2 billion, according to a report that could help determine retaliation against U.S. exports if Washington does not change its requirements.

The United States must bring the labeling rules, known by the acronym COOL, into compliance with a World Trade Organization ruling by May 23, 2013, according to a WTO decision released last month.

But citing no apparent movement by the U.S. Congress since the original WTO ruling in mid-2012, the Canadian Pork Council released an estimate of damages on Monday. The council called on Ottawa to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the United States if there is no change by the WTO deadline.

"COOL continues to cost hog and cattle producers tens of millions of dollars every month and must be dealt with sooner rather than later," said Jean-Guy Vincent, a Quebec hog farmer and chairman of the Pork Council.

The labeling program has led to a sharp reduction in U.S. imports of Canadian pigs and cattle because it has raised costs for U.S. packers by forcing them to segregate imported animals from U.S. livestock.   Continued...