The body wrote to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), in support of a petition by the Organization for Competitive Markets and American Grassfed Association, asking it to change current regulations and require that beef be of domestic origin in order to be eligible for the ‘Product of the USA’ label.
“Any product that is simply processed in the US can be labelled ‘Product of USA,” said NFU president Roger Johnson. “This standard allows beef that is born, raised and slaughtered in another country to be labelled ‘Product of the USA’ provided it passes through a USDA-inspected plant. This permits product labelling that misleads consumers and places US ranchers at a market disadvantage.”
He said the current standards allowed foreign interests and multinational corporations to take advantage of market opportunities that should be reserved for US family farmers and ranchers.
“This financially harms US beef producers, who currently find themselves in a highly consolidated marketplace,” said Johnson. “Today, four companies – Cargill, Tyson, JBS and National Beef – control over 80% of the beef market. All four of these multinational corporations depend on imported meat and meat products.”
He cited Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and FSIS regulations that clearly prohibit meat and meat product labels that are misleading to consumers.
“USDA has a responsibility to correct ‘Product of the USA’ labelling standards. Current labelling practices do not satisfy the requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act or federal regulations,” said Johnson. “FSIS must amend its labelling standards to restrict use of the ‘Product of the USA’ label exclusively for meat and meat products that derive from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the US.”