Canada responds to U.S. V-COOL rule

Canada responds to U.S. V-COOL rule
Mar 18, 2024

Ministers and industry groups oppose this rule

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Federal and provincial ag ministers, and Canadian ag industry groups, are united in their disappointment in a recent U.S. decision regarding meat packaging.

On March 11, the USDA finalized its voluntary Product of USA label claim, which some are referring to as voluntary country of origin labeling (V-COOL).

Under this rule and beginning in January 2026, meat, poultry and egg products can have a “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label if the products are from animals born, raised and processed in the U.S.

Under current regulations, cattle born and raised in Canada can be transported and processed in the U.S., and labeled as being an American product.

This V-COOL “rule will prohibit misleading U.S. origin labeling in the market, and help ensure that the information that consumers receive about where their food comes from is truthful,” the USDA says.

Canadian representatives are not pleased with this rule.

Canada exported almost $6 billion in cattle to the U.S. in 2023.

Creating barriers for Canadian beef is unacceptable, two federal ministers said.

“Canada remains concerned about any measures that may cause disruptions to the highly integrated North American meat and livestock supply chains, Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said in a joint statement.

Alberta’s ag minister also voiced concern for V-COOL.

The supply chains between the U.S. and Canada are tightly integrated. Keeping them that way is better for people in both countries, RJ Sigurdson said.

“We are committed to making sure Alberta producers and processors continue to have open access to efficient, stable, competitive markets in the United States,” he said in a statement. “Maintaining the integrated supply chains will provide food security for consumers and benefit the livestock and meat industries on both sides of the border.”

Industry groups are also displeased with this USDA ruling.

Implementing V-COOL is an example of government overreach, said Stephen Heckbert, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council.

“Let me reiterate, no one's asked for this,” he told Farmscape. “This is a problem that has been created entirely by government and no one asked them to step in.”

Part of what makes the relationship between the U.S. and Canada so strong is streamlined regulations.

The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) says it will continue to advocate for fair and open access to the United States.

“Through close engagement with our government, the Canadian Meat Council will continue advocating for reduced barriers to entry and ensure label claims do not restrict Canada’s red meat industry. . .,” Chris White, president and CEO of the CMC, said in a statement.

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