The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed changes
to its voluntary “Product of the USA” labeling regulations would cause supply chain challenges and risk increased food disruptions at a difficult time in the North American supply chain, and pork producers will once again bear the brunt of the pain.
The new regulations would limit claims so only products made from livestock born, raised, harvested, and processed in America could be labeled “Product of the USA.” While voluntary, the proposed “Product of USA” rule would impose the same standard as the mandatory Country of Origin Labeling statute repealed by Congress in late 2015 as a result of a WTO ruling against those original provisions.
Today’s proposed rule would be broader than mandatory COOL because it also includes processed products and products for foodservice, which were not subject to mandatory COOL. “Any changes to the voluntary “Product of USA” labelling regulations creates risks to North American meat and livestock sectors by adding new regulations to a sector seeking regulatory simplicity,” said Rene Roy, chair of the board of directors of the Canadian Pork Council. “As primary producers, we already face significant challenges with profitability on both sides of the border, and our history of working together indicates this is a solution to a problem we don’t have.”
Canada–U.S. meat and livestock supply chain integration means consumers benefit from more affordable, high–quality meat products, while producers benefit from efficient, and competitive markets. The segregation of Canadian and U.S. products through the proposed new measures is introducing unnecessary expenditures, causing an increase in prices to consumers and increased challenges to retailers and small– and medium–sized enterprises on both sides of the border.
“The world is combating supply chain challenges, food inflation and food scarcity – now is not the time to set up new barriers in successful trading relationships,” Roy said. “We intend to join the Government of Canada in reviewing the proposed rule carefully.
“We will also participate in the U.S. rule–making process to ensure any new definitions and rules do not restrict trade or disrupt supply chains, or cause increased prices, for consumers in Canada or in the United States.”