After years of deliberation and preparation, the United States of America has finally announced the completion of its long-awaited Product of USA labeling rule. This landmark regulatory measure aims to provide more clarity to consumers regarding the origin of products they purchase, fostering stronger trust in the marketplace. The Product of USA labeling rule has been a topic of discussion for quite some time, with proponents arguing for its necessity in a globalized economy. The rule is intended to ensure that products bearing the ‘Product of USA’ label are entirely made or substantially transformed in the United States, reassuring customers about the origin and quality of their purchases.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized a rule to ensure that the voluntary 'Product of USA' label claim accurately reflects consumer expectations. The rule, announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the National Farmers Union Annual Convention, allows meat, poultry, and egg products to only carry the Product of USA or 'Made in the USA' label if derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the US. The rule aims to prevent misleading origin labelling in the market. Additionally, a $9.5m investment in 42 projects through the Local Meat Capacity grant programme will enhance processing options for the meat and poultry industry and promote transparency and competitiveness in the US seed industry. The Product of USA label will remain voluntary and eligible for generic label approval, but establishments will be required to maintain documentation to support the claim. The rule builds on the Biden-Harris Administration's work to bolster trust and fairness in the marketplace.

One of the main motivations behind the implementation of this rule is the increasing complexity of global supply chains. With the rise of international trade and outsourcing, it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to discern the true origin of the products they buy. This lack of transparency has created confusion and eroded consumer trust, prompting the need for a labeling standard that guarantees accurate information. Under the finalized Product of USA labeling rule, products will be required to meet stringent criteria to qualify for the coveted label. The criteria specify that, for food products, the most significant ingredients or components must be of domestic origin and undergo substantial transformation in the United States. This includes processing that adds value or transforms the product to become distinct from its imported components.

The final rule allows the voluntary use of the ‘Product of USA’ or ‘Made in the USA’ label claim on meat, poultry, and egg products sold in the marketplace. It also allows for generic label approval without pre-approval by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). However, establishments must maintain documentation to support the claim. Other voluntary U.S. origin claims must include a description of the preparation and processing steps in the United States. Those using the claim must comply with new regulatory requirements by January 1, 2026.

Canada's livestock industry is concerned about a voluntary labeling rule that could disrupt North American livestock supply chains. The rule, which applies to livestock born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S., is causing concern among groups. Last year, Canada exported $3.45 billion CAD ($2.65 billion in U.S. values) in beef to the U.S., which is larger than all other Canadian export markets combined. Canada also exports roughly 6.5 million hogs to the U.S., with the majority being feeder pigs finished by U.S. pork producers. Canada's Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Minister of Trade Mary Ng have released statements expressing concern about this rule disrupting supply chains.

Canada will closely review the proposed amendments to the labelling of meat, poultry, and egg products in the U.S. and participate in the U.S. rule-making process to ensure compliance with international trade obligations and supply chain disruptions. The country has a voluntary meat labeling program where Canadian packers market ‘100% Canadian beef’ to consumers.

The USDA is also taking steps to increase transparency in seed companies, hiring specialists to monitor websites and checking pamphlets and PDFs to ensure compliance with the Federal Seed Act. Additionally, the USDA will increase outreach efforts, including a webinar to educate producers about labeling requirements and participation in in-store marketing.

In conclusion, the finalization of the Product of USA labeling rule marks a significant achievement for the United States. It represents a comprehensive effort to enhance transparency, trust, and fairness in the marketplace. By guaranteeing accurate and reliable information about the origin of products, this rule paves the way for a strengthened economy and a more informed consumer base. With the implementation of this labeling standard, the United States sets a precedent for other countries to prioritize consumer protection and honest practices in global trade.