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Changes coming for meat labeled Product of USA

For meat to qualify for the “Product of USA” label, the animal must be raised in the United States

By Jean-Paul McDonald

With an executive order (EO) expected soon from the White House, the Biden administration is working on making ‘Product of USA’ labeling more precise when it comes to meat. At issue is the current labeling of meat sold in the U.S. marked with ‘Product of USA’ when large numbers of livestock are actually raised and slaughtered in other countries and then imported to the U.S. for processing.

“The president and the USDA believe it is unfair for domestic farmers and ranchers to have to compete with foreign companies that are misleading consumers,” said U.S. press secretary Jen Psaki. The new rules would regulate what constitutes meat as a ‘Product of USA’. For meat to qualify for the “Product of USA” label, the animal must be raised in the United States, not abroad. 

The EO directs USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers and agriculture workers fairly."

A recent statement made by agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack makes it clear that he would like a “top-to-bottom” review of the ‘Product of USA’ labeling to help understand what that labelling means to consumers. Vilsack’s announcement follows a Federal Trade Commission move to deter rampant “Made in USA” fraud.

We have taken note of the many comments submitted to USDA and the FTC regarding meat labeling and understand that the current ‘Product of USA’ label on meat products may no longer effectively serve either of those purposes, to the detriment of consumers, producers, and fair and competitive markets,” said Vilsack.

According to Psaki, this order will make it easier for U.S. farmers to economically compete against international meat industries as well as make it easier for farmers to bring claims against corporate agriculture businesses under the Packers and Stockyards Act – which would protect farmers from retaliation for reporting companies that are not following the rules.

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