Groups: Meat labeling rules could start trade war

February 3, 2014 • Business

FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2013 file photo, various cuts of beef and port are displayed for sale in the meat department at a discount market in Arlington, Va. Cattle groups from the U.S. and Canada are upset that a new Farm Bill passed by the House on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, fails to make changes to country-of-origin labeling requirements. The rules require detailed labels about the origins of beef, pork and chicken sold in U.S. stores. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Meat and livestock groups upset that Congress opted in the new farm bill not to back off from mandatory country of origin labeling requirements are worried the issue could start a trade war with Canada and Mexico.

Previous labeling rules required only the country of origin to be noted, such as “Product of U.S.” or “Product of U.S. and Canada.” New rules that took effect last year require that labels for steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat include clear information about where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Labels must specify, for example, “Born in Mexico, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

“That’s a really big label on a package of meat that doesn’t really guarantee anything,” said Cory Eich, president of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

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