Representatives of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), led by President Travis Toews, attended the second round of oral hearings examining whether the United States Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) law violates the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. Held in Geneva, Switzerland on December 1 & 2, this second and final oral hearing is, for Canada, the culmination of more than two years of work compiling and documenting the negative impacts of COOL on the Canadian cattle industry.

The CCA congratulates the Government of Canada and its outstanding legal team for the strong presentation it made to the WTO dispute settlement panel.

“We have to thank International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for their commitment of resources that brought us to this point,” said Toews. “It has been an incredible amount of work and expenditure of resources for both industry and government, but we have worked very well together and the strong showing this week is the result.”

With respect to a prediction on the outcome, Toews noted the panel is certainly not showing its hand.

“We are confident that we have clearly demonstrated that COOL has negatively impacted the conditions of competition for Canadian cattle and other livestock in the U.S. market,” he said. Indeed, Canada’s economic analysis and statements from U.S. cattle buyers leave no doubt that COOL has caused a negative differential between the value of U.S. and Canadian cattle.

“I am proud to add that Canada’s case is as strong as it could possibly be due to the determined engagement of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association,” said Toews. “This case has been expensive for all the parties involved, but living with COOL in its current form is even more costly for Canadian cattle producers. Producers should know that their check-off dollars ensured that a very strong case was brought forward.”

The road ahead will consist of a month of responding to written questions from the panel. These written responses will be the last opportunity to present information to the panel before their decision is published in late July.

The CCA’s legal effort regarding this trade issue is funded by the valuable provincial check-off dollars provided by producers through their provincial cattle organizations as members of the CCA.