The pilot program was developed as part of the Canada-US Beyond the Border Action Plan, a series of specific proposals to support bilateral trade and travel between the two countries. Meat that is exported from the US is not re-inspected at the border. Instead, meat products are sent into Canada to one of hundreds of Canadian federally registered establishments where product samples are collected and testing is performed.
Canadian meat exporters pay more than $3.6 million in fees annually to privately owned US inspection houses located near the US-Canada border, and those fees are not regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. This means the inspection houses can charge whatever amounts they wish to Canadian exporters, while US exporters do not pay similar fees when exporting to Canada.
“Meat should move as easily from Canada into the United States as it currently does from the United States into Canada,” said Jim Laws, executive director of the Canadian Meat Council. “Indeed, meat should move as freely between Canada and the United States as it does between most countries of the European Union.”
The pilot project would have eliminated border re-inspection for one year. It was scheduled to begin in September 2012, but the project never got off the ground.
“Canadian meat processors recognize and appreciate the progress that has been achieved during the past two years on a variety of Beyond the Border projects, including the Single Window and the Border Fees Transparency initiatives,” said Arnold Drung, Canadian Meat Council president. “At the same time, we regret the apparent absence of the progress on the promised bi-national pilot project on meat shipments.”