This week, the USDA published the final Product of USA labeling rule for the voluntary labeling of  U.S. meat, poultry, and egg products.

The rule stipulates that to qualify for the label meat must be derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S.

The new policy, which is being referred to as voluntary country of original labelling (V-COOL),  is set to come into effect by January 1, 2026.

President of the Canadian Cattle Association Nathan Phinney says it's something they've been working hard against for years, as hundreds of thousands of cattle move both ways across the border.

"Sometimes they are born in the U.S., brought to Canada to be fed and processed in the U.S. Some cattle are brought up and processed here and you know, in some circumstances, some go South of the border are fed and processed there." he adds "We have the largest integrated beef supply chain in Canada, the US and the world, and we want to strengthen that and not put barriers up that possibly could hinder it."

The cattle numbers fluctuate year over year depending on where the feed is.

Phinney says the drought and cattle reduction in the U.S. is similar to what producers in Western Canada are going through, so it's important to be able to move cattle to feed and to processing regardless of which side of the border it's on.

"We need to strengthen this as our critical infrastructure starts to feel strains we need to be able to move cattle around to where the infrastructure is."

He notes they'll continue to work on and monitor what's happening around the new Product of USA labeling rule which is set to come into place in 2026.

"Hopefully there are no unintended consequences, but if there happens to be segregation, as we said, we'll be monitoring it and we'll be ready to go."

Like the Canadian Cattle Association, the Canadian Pork industry is also disappointed in the finalized rule.

CPC chair René Roy says the integration within our industry on both sides of the border has been a point of pride for us and our American counterparts at the National Pork Producers Council.

"These changes, like the original mandatory policy successfully challenged at the World Trade Organization, will have an impact on trade in the integrated Canada/U.S. market, and we are again expressing our disappointment that the final rule did not consider the concerns expressed by Canada and by our American colleagues."

Manitoba is the largest pork-producing province in the Praries and represents about 30 per cent of Canada's hog market.

General Manager Cam Dahl says he's very concerned about how it will impact exports for the pork industry.

"In particular in Manitoba, we are export dependent. So when we see markets start to close off, it's extremely concerning and it's something that has the potential to have a significant impact on the bottom line of producers."

Dahl points out that of the eight million pigs produced in the province about 90 per cent are exported every year, either as live animals or in packages of pork around the world.

"We had pushed hard with our US counterparts to not see this happen. Now that we have seen the final rule published, I think is when we need to to sit back and really look at what our next steps are going to be."

The Canadian Pork Council says they are calling on the federal government to be vigilant in protecting our market access adding they are pleased the Government of Canada has already indicated it will be looking at options to correct the protectionist nature of these proposed regulations.

To listen to Glenda-Lee's conversation with CCA President Nathan Phinney, click the first link below.

To hear her conversation with Manitoba Pork General Manager Cam Dahl click on the second link.