December 27, 2008


Mexico suspends imports from 30 US meat plants


Mexico has suspended imports from 30 US meat plants, some of which are the largest in the US, according to the USDA.


The suspensions are effective as of Wednesday (Dec 24) and Friday (Dec 26), and many plants are owned by large US meat companies including Cargill, Tyson Foods, Seaboard, JBS and Smithfield Foods.

US analysts speculated that the move is Mexico's retaliation to the US' country-of-origin labelling (COOL) law, which has hurt Mexico and Canada's livestock industry. However, both Mexico and the USDA denied the retaliation charge.


Mexico's agriculture ministry said the affected plants fell short on standards such as packaging, labelling and transport conditions, but the plants could be relisted on next Monday if 'everything goes well'.


The USDA said it is working with Mexico and the meat companies to resolve the issues.


Earlier this year, Mexico warned many US meat plants of "point of entry violations", and the suspensions may be related to that, said Jim Herlihy, spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation on Friday.


Herlihy said point of entry violations could be a number of things including incorrect paperwork or labelling issues.


News of the suspensions caused cattle and hog futures to trade lower on Friday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, with cattle prices falling 2-2.5 percent and hog prices dropping about 3 percent.


Mexico is a leading importer of US meat.

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