Sask.'s Brad Wall hoping U.S. meat labelling law will be repealed

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is hoping a U.S. meat-labelling law will be repealed.

U.S. Congress set to drop country-of-origin labelling

A long-standing Canadian lobby effort against a U.S. meat-labelling law may soon be resolved. (CBC)

A U.S. law concerning country-of-origin labelling may soon be on its way out — a move welcomed by many in the food industry.

"This is just added good news," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Wednesday. "If we get it home just before Christmas, it's a pretty good Christmas present."

The U.S. move comes in the wake of a World Trade Organization ruling that the U.S. labelling requirements were unfair.

Saskatchewan has long campaigned to get rid of mandatory country-of-origin labelling, known as COOL, on beef and pork.

"It's such a complicated legislative process to try to navigate in the interest of any particular outcome," Wall said. "This outcome, the repeal of COOL, is what we wanted and you know, we're not home yet, but we're really close and so I think this is hopeful."

The labelling law is blamed for reducing Canadian cross-border meat exports by half and costing the Canadian beef and pork industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

The premier said repealing the law would increase beef and pork exports and have an almost immediate impact on Canadian producers.

The reference to meat labels is part of expansive funding legislation that still needs to pass both chambers of Congress and get signed by the president.

"No one wants to jinx anything because we've seen some filibusters in the Senate ... but I think people are optimistic that this is going to get all the way home," Wall said.

U.S. rules on country-of-origin labels were introduced in 2002 and have been enforced since 2008.

Proponents say it's a fair way of letting consumers know where their food comes from.

Opponents say it's disguised protectionism and irrelevant to food safety because there are already inspections.

Some U.S. companies have said they can't afford to sort, label and store meat from Canada differently than meat from domestic animals.

Canada and Mexico have been set to impose more than $1 billion in punitive measures on a wide range of U.S. goods if COOL isn't repealed.

With files from CBC's Micki Cowan

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