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Hog industry rebounds after COOL

Late last year the WTO ruled against the U.S. COOL law and since then meat industry associations say Canada’s hog industry has seen improvements


Ottawa – Canada’s hog farms have seen an increase in the number of hogs ever since the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) law violated trading rules.

As of April 1, it’s estimated that the number of hogs sits at 12 million head – that’s up 1.8 per cent from the same date a year ago.

The North American Meat Processors Association and the National Meat Association say it’s a sign that Canada’s hog industry is rebounding from the U.S. COOL law, which the WTO gave its ruling on last November.

Growth

Overall the numbers were buoyed by growth in Western Canada, which benefited from the availability of cheaper feed grains last year, say the associations. Saskatchewan boosted the herd by almost 14 per cent.

The number of sows on Canadian farms was nearly unchanged at 1.3 million head.

During the first three months of the year, pork plants processed slightly fewer hogs than they did in the same period a year earlier.

Eastern Canadian plants received about 1.7 per cent fewer, while Western Canadian plants received 2.3 per cent more.

Meanwhile exports dipped one per cent in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2011. Compared to pre-COOL numbers, exports are down about 50 per cent.

WTO ruling

In November, the WTO ruled against U.S. COOL saying it violated international trading rules, discriminated against foreign livestock and was inconsistent with the U.S.’s WTO trade obligations.

COOL, which was implemented in 2008, required feedlots and packers to keep Canadian livestock segregated.

It also forced livestock producers in Canada and other countries that trade with the U.S. to go through a lengthy labelling and tracking system that created unnecessary paperwork and additional red tape.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada says the law led to the disintegration of the North American supply chain, creating unpredictability in the market and imposing additional costs on producers on both sides of the border. Thirteen WTO country members had joined as third parties in the dispute.

Appeal

In March of this year, the U.S. asked the WTO to review that November ruling.

Written submissions were issued in mid-April, and the WTO Appellate Body should issue a ruling by the end of June.