Consumers Expected to Pay the Price for New U.S. Voluntary Country of Origin Labelling

Apr 15, 2024

The Executive Director of the Canadian Pork Council warns consumers will end up paying more for their pork as the result of U.S. voluntary country of origin labelling.

Last month U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced voluntary country of original labelling, or V-COOL, will come into effect by January 1, 2026.
Under the new voluntary rule, the use of "Product of USA" or “Made in the USA” label claims on meat, poultry and egg products will only be allowed when those products are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.

Canadian Pork Council Executive Director Stephen Heckbert says the concern is that this very prescriptive approach to labelling will disrupt the ability of pork producers in Canada and the U.S. to work together, limit the movement of pigs and products across the border and drive up pork prices.

Quote-Stephen Heckbert-Canadian Pork Council:

This is the U.S. government.The politicians are elected by American citizens so this is a case where working with U.S. pork producers is probably our number one thing that we have to do.This is a U.S. regulatory change and we've got to figure out how to work with American producers to see if we can't get these regulations to be more in line with what actually works.

Secretary Vilsack has been interested in this for a long time.I've got to confess; I do not understand the politics of it from his perspective but he's a former governor of Iowa so he must think there's a reason why this is beneficial but it is a solution that has created a whole bunch of new problems.Our hope is that eventually common sense prevails and people understand that it is not going to deliver for consumers.

The number one problem with this is that at the end of the day it's consumers who are going to pay more.Budgets are tight, times are tough and any government that says they're really concerned about costs to consumers should be doing everything it can to reduce costs to consumers not increase them.

Heckbert says the hope is that this matter can be resolved at the trade table rather than through a World Trade Organization challenge, as was the case with U.S. mandatory country of origin labelling which was repealed following a successful WTO challenge.

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