SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods Inc. has stopped buying cattle directly from Canadian producers citing burdensome costs incurred because of US country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rules.
Under revised COOL regulations, meat packers must label muscle cuts of meat with information about where each of the production steps occurred.
"These new rules significantly increase costs because they require additional product codes, production breaks and product segregation, including a separate category for cattle shipped directly from Canada to US beef plants without providing any incremental value to our customers," said Worth Sparkman, a Tyson spokesman. "Unfortunately, we don’t have enough warehousing capacity to accommodate the proliferation of products requiring different types of labels due to this regulation. As result, we have discontinued buying cattle shipped to our US beef plants directly from Canada, effective mid-October, but will continue to seek alternatives that will allow us to resume importing cattle directly from Canada.
"We are continuing to buy Canadian-born cattle that are finished for market at US feedlots," Sparkman added. "We remain hopeful that these new rules will eventually be rescinded and we’ll be able to resume buying cattle directly from Canadian cattle feeders."
In July, groups representing US, Canadian and Mexican meat industry interests sued the US Department of Agriculture in US District Court to overturn COOL. A judge denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against COOL in September. In October, the groups filed an initial brief as part of an appeal of that ruling.