The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports that at the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Phoenix, Ariz. earlier this year mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) “got a chilly reception” during a panel discussion.
The forum was part of the annual meeting of the Livestock Marketing Council, which is a group consisting mainly of livestock auction market operators and cattle buyers from across the U.S.
Impact of COOL
One member of the forum, Erin Daley, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) economist, talked about the impact of COOL on live cattle trade and the potential problems the issue could create in the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade relationship.
She pointed out that Canada and Mexico combined account for US$2 billion in U.S. beef export purchases in 2008 – about 60 per cent of the worldwide 2008 total. Any disruption in trade could have serious consequences for U.S. cattle producers.
For one thing, she said, it could cost U.S. cattle producers US$50 to US$60 per head if the U.S. loses the NAFTA export markets. Also, the U.S. industry would have even more excess capacity if live cattle imports from Canada and Mexico continue to decline, dragging down the industry’s level of efficiency and making it more difficult for U.S. beef to compete in global markets.
In a weekly USMEF report, Dan Halstrom, past chairman of the USMEF, called on the U.S. industry to manage the situation closely. “We have to communicate with our trading partners and make sure that we are all on the same page.”