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Trade tensions simmer over "Product of USA" rule

By Farms.com

 

The agricultural community is abuzz as the USDA rolls out a new rule that tightens the criteria for using the "Product of USA" and "Made in the USA" labels on meat, poultry, and egg products. Starting January 1, 2026, these labels will be exclusive to products from animals exclusively born, raised, slaughtered, and processed within the United States. This regulation is part of the USDA's efforts to ensure transparency and prevent misleading labeling practices regarding food origins. 

The rule, however, has not been well received by neighboring countries. Canadian and Mexican livestock producers view it as a potential threat to their access to the lucrative U.S. market. They argue that it risks the longstanding trade relationships and the seamless integration of the North American agricultural supply chain. Like the challenges posed by the previously enacted mCOOL law, which led to a WTO dispute and retaliatory tariffs, this rule is feared to introduce new barriers to trade. 

Critics argue that the USDA's decision overlooks the complexities and mutual benefits of the North American agricultural market. They suggest that alternative labeling strategies could accommodate consumer preferences for original information without disrupting trade.

This development has triggered a wave of disappointment among Canadian and Mexican officials, who plan to address their concerns in upcoming international agricultural discussions. The rule's implications for North American trade dynamics, market segmentation, and the broader agricultural economy are significant, with various stakeholders calling for dialogue and reconsideration of the rule's impact.

As the implementation date approaches, the conversation around the "Product of USA" labeling rule continues, highlighting the delicate balance between consumer information, trade relations, and the global competitiveness of North American agriculture.


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