The USDA's voluntary 'Product of USA' labeling rule for U.S. meat, poultry, and egg products is now a reality.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says to qualify for the label meat must be derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S.

The move is a key concern to Canada's pork sector.

Manitoba Pork chair Rick Préjet says three million pigs are exported to the United States from Manitoba every year, in addition to the over $400 million worth of Manitoba pork products.

"These changes, like the original mandatory policy successfully challenged at the World Trade Organization, will significantly impact trade in the integrated Canada/U.S. market, and we are extremely disappointed that the final rule did not consider the concerns expressed by Canada."

Canada will be monitoring the situation in the U.S. closely to ensure it does not violate any trade regulations.

In 2014, Canada and Mexico won a WTO decision against the U.S. mandatory country of origin labelling legislation allowing the two sides to impose retaliatory tariffs if COOL was not removed.

That WTO ruling with the potential for $1.1 billion in retaliatory tariffs resulted in the U.S. repealing that legislation.

Canadian officials note that WTO ruling and the potential to impose tariffs is still valid.

Préjet says despite being labelled as “voluntary”, Manitoba Pork is concerned that the same discrimination will occur when these new regulations are implemented.

He says they want Canada to consider all potential options to correct the protectionist nature of these proposed regulations, and ask the Manitoba Government to support a strong response to protect our market access.