Canada to Monitor V-COOL Development

Canada’s red meat livestock sector says it will be watching developments closely, following the USDA’s announcement of new Product of U.S. labeling rules coming into effect at the beginning of 2026. Those rules, which say beef and pork products derived from animals that have been exclusively born, raised, slaughtered, and processed on American soil would qualify for new Product of USA label standards.

Both the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattle Association says the new inclusive rules will be among the strictest in the world. The Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattle Association say the upcoming labeling rules, which are described as ‘voluntary’ by the U.S. industry, are far too reminiscent of the Mandatory Country of Origin labeling rules. M-COOL, which was ruled as discriminatory to Canadian and Mexican red meat by the World Trade Organization, was abolished in 2015.

Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattle Association, says that under its current guidelines, what is widely being called V-COOL, will be hard to deal with for industry players on both sides of the U.S. border.

“The label is to be voluntary, but it’s going to maintain born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S. definition and if it gets broadly adopted, and becomes a condition of trade, that makes it one of the most onerous rules in the world.”

The U.S. and Canada have the largest two-way trade with American meat processors, as well as many U.S. cattlemen who rely on Canadian cattle. Laycraft says when the new rules come into play, they will largely disqualify that trade.

“It’s a big issue for many feeders in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, that bring a lot of Canadian feeder animals in. This rule basically disqualifies that trade, which has been pretty important to a number of U.S. producers as well.”

The new rules are set to come into effect at the beginning of 2026. Laycraft says as that date draws closer, and the American industry sees what is involved, he believes that those new rules will be found to be extremely complicated for American industry partners, for the U.S. meat industry itself, and for foreign and domestic consumers.

“As you go through the rules, there’s actually going to be two Product of USA definitions. There’s one for export that they say each country determines with the U.S. And then there’s the Product of USA in the United States. That’ll become more apparent as the rule gets closer to coming into affect.”

Canada and Mexico have retained the WTO’s 2015 authorization to retaliate against an origin labeling measure that would unfairly discriminate against imports of live cattle and hogs.