That’s a lot of paperwork. As a result, Canadian cattle and hogs became too expensive.

There is no health or safety reason for any of this. The motivation is almost entirely protectionist, meant to aid certain special interests at the expense of the greater good.

It’s also sneaky, because it doesn’t look like traditional trade protectionism. A recent issue of The Economist observes that this is a disturbing new trend in the developed world: “An increasingly popular method nowadays is to strangle traders not with high tariffs, which are easy to spot, but with red tape, which is not.”

The WTO decision is a victory against red tape and for common sense. Ranchers will find it easier to move their herds. Consumers will see their meat prices drift down.

Going forward, we should pursue harmonization–a linking of rules and regulations that makes it easier for goods and services to cross borders. Imagine binational safety and inspection standards, possibly leading to a COOL-compliant label that says, “Product of the USA and Canada.” One day, the system might even include Mexico, with a label that says, “Product of North America.”

This may not be appropriate for every area of the economy, but it definitely would work well in mine.

Last December, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a step in the right direction, with a joint declaration called “Beyond the Border” that calls for more economic integration.

Now they need to make good on its promise. Our leaders need to show us the beef.

Carol Keiser owns and operates cattle feeding operations in Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois.  She volunteers as a Truth About Trade & Technology board member.