Estimates of the cost of mandatory country-of-origin labels for food have been doubled by the US Department of Agriculture, reports the AP via Chicago Sun-Times. The new tally is likely to be $4 billion smackers and the new cost is likely to be passed on to consumers (duh).
The new rules are part of the 2002 farm bill and the labels, which are currently voluntary, will be mandatory come next September.
Most of the cost is attributed to separting sheep from goats, European meat from Canadian, etc.:
The new estimate predicts that farmers and packinghouses probably will spend $3.3 billion just on separating pigs, cattle and sheep before they're slaughtered. Record-keeping will cost another $500 million or more, [Ag Dept. spokesman Kenneth] Clayton said.