New ‘Made in USA’ label rules could damage Alberta meat exports

Canada and the U.S. have been waging battle over country-of-origin labelling for meat since 2008

New meat labelling rules in the U.S. could hurt Alberta and Canadian meat exports to its southern neighbour — and will likely raise prices for U.S. consumers, experts say.

Canada and the United States’ long-standing battle over country-of-origin labelling (COOL) for meat products entered a new chapter on Monday, with the Biden administration announcing a new rule that “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” labels can only be used when the animals are born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S.

Under current regulations, cattle born and raised in Canada, then transported and slaughtered in the U.S., can be labelled as being from the U.S. Some American associations have also raised concerns that cattle slaughtered and processed in countries such as Mexico can be repackaged upon arrival to the U.S. and given the “Made in USA” label.

The rule is voluntary, meaning meat producers aren’t required to use the labelling, said the United States Department of Agriculture. The department said the rule, taking effect in 2026, will prohibit misleading claims about where meat was sourced.

But if enough U.S. meat producers adopt “Made in USA” packaging, Canadian producers could see their cross-border exports drop, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA). The CCA on Monday called the rules “onerous.”

“It comes back to how many people are actually going to produce beef using the ‘Product of USA’ label,” Laycraft said. “As we get closer to implementation and people are arranging product to meet that definition, we may start to see (the effect).”