WASHINGTON – Earlier this month, the American Meat Institute joined the Canadian Meat Council (CMC), and separately the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and National Meat Association (NMA), to file comments with the US Department of Commerce (DOC) on regulatory cooperation between the US, Canada and Mexico.

These comments were filed in response to US Department of Commerce Notice: Request for Public Comments Concerning Regulatory Cooperation Activities That Would Help Eliminate or Reduce Unnecessary Regulatory Divergences in North America that Disrupt US Exports (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-4862.htm).

The groups’ comments support efforts to harmonize regulations between the three North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries to improve efficiency in meat and poultry trade and eliminate or reduce “unnecessary regulatory divergences” that hinder or disrupt US exports.

“Trade in livestock and meat products among the three countries is significant, with combined cross border trade exceeding $8.5 billion in 2010,” the groups wrote. “This level of trade demonstrates the enormity and the importance of meat and poultry trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.”

Eliminating re-inspection of meat at the Canada-US border, starting with a pilot project to demonstrate feasibility, is among the six recommendations for regulatory reform to reduce costs and improve trade opportunities between Canada and the US. Border inspections of approximately 10% of all Canadian and American meat are merely “re-inspections” of US Department of Agriculture and Canadian Food Inspection Agency-inspected meat. This step does nothing more than increase transportation costs and extend delivery times due to the distance of these facilities from the border crossings, as well as extend delays during busy times.

AMI, USMEF, NPPC and NMA also submitted 18 recommendations for suggestions on regulatory reform, cost reduction and improved trade between Canada, Mexico and the US to the Commerce Department. Recommendations include adopting consistent standards for beef exports, harmonizing microbial standards and resolving the U.S. – Mexico NAFTA trucking dispute.