Prime Minister Harper meets with President Obama (photo courtesy PMO.)



Canadian cattle producers could benefit from the creation of the United States-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council. The Council was one of the initiatives announced after last week's meeting between Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama.

"We certainly view the creation of this council as positive. We would anticipate that it will work on border issues, to reduce the thickening of the border," says Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. "That thickening and regulatory red tape simply adds cost to trade and those costs ultimately come out of producers pockets."

"We'll certainly be advocating that beef and cattle be included high on the council's agenda," he says.

Toews says American country-of-origin labelling legislation (COOL) is one issue that could be addressed.

"It's a very large example of border thickening, an event that has caused extra regulatory costs to producers in the U.S., and that cost has ultimately been borne largely by Canadian producers."

He says protocol at border crossings and meat inspection procedures are two other areas where further synergies would result in lower costs.

"With respect to finished beef products, the practice of opening boxes at a border point and having trucks wait for test results should be a thing of the past. We are hopeful that a protocol will be implemented where food safety could be assured under controlled conditions at the processing facility," says Toews.

Toews is in Washington this week discussing trade issues with U.S. government officials and industry representatives.

"We're talking about COOL, and what we would see as a remedy. We're all waiting for a (WTO) panel decision, but we're starting to do some advocacy work here ahead of time," he says.

~ Wednesday, February 9, 2011 ~