RESTON, Va. – President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Dec. 7 several key initiatives designed to improve meat trade between both countries, according to Phil Kimball, executive director of the North American Meat Processors Association.

Several key Joint Action Plan initiatives for the industry include:

• Enhance equivalence agreements for meat-safety systems to streamline, simplify, and, where possible, reduce import and administrative procedures, while maintaining public health outcomes.

• Streamline the certification requirements for meat and poultry including, where possible, reducing or eliminating redundant certification, data elements and administrative procedures for shipments distributed between the US and Canada. “Through reliance on the controls and mitigation measures rooted in each other’s systems, the US and Canada can work towards agreement that a product coming from the other country is in compliance with the importing country’s requirements and should not routinely trigger additional regulatory action,” Kimball said regarding benefits of this move.

• Create a common meat-cut nomenclature system and regulatory alignment tool to jointly maintain the system. “A common approach to naming meat cuts would allow for innovation and product development, and eliminate costs associated with inventory production and maintenance for firms selling into both markets,” Kimball said. “It would provide consumers with a simple information system to allow them to make price comparisons and cooking decisions across both countries with no impact on food safety.”