Speak up for consumers’ right to know where their meat comes from!
Right now, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows meat to bear the label “Product of U.S.A.” if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant. That means that a company can import meat from from a steer that lived its entire life in Brazil, Uruguay, or Australia, and was processed there – and then have that meat cut into steaks in a plant here and label it as “Product of the U.S.A.”
This loophole misleads consumers into buying meat from other countries even when they intend to buy from U.S. ranchers. Research has shown
- 93% of Americans want to know where their food comes from, and
- 75% of Americans indicate the source of origin of their food is a major attribute when making their food choices.
Fortunately, the USDA is considering a petition to ensure that “Product of the U.S.A.” labels are only used on meat that actually comes from the USA. This change would give America’s family ranchers a fair opportunity to market their products to American consumers who care where their food comes from and want to support products made in America.
Learn more about how the current law is hurting American grass-fed beef producers in particular: https://newfoodeconomy.org/grass-fed-beef-labeling-fraud-country-origin/
You can help by submitting comments to the USDA by August 17, 2018.
Submit comments online: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2018-0024
Submit by mail:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Attention: Ms. Mary Porretta, Petitions Manager
Office of Policy and Program Development
Reference: Petition “18-05”
Your letter will carry far more weight if it’s written in your own words and focused on YOUR reasons for caring about this issue. It can be as short or as long as you like.
Here are some questions that can help get started:
- If you’re a consumer:
o Is it important to you to buy from U.S. farmers and ranchers?
o Do you look for a “product of the U.S.A. label” and assume it means that the animal was raised in this country?
o Are you willing to pay more for domestically raised products, if you have confidence in the labeling?
- If you’re a producer:
o Have you struggled with the competition from cheaper imports? Have you had consumers bring up the price difference between your product and supposedly comparable products at the grocery stores (most of which are imported)?
o Have you had to explain to customers that the meat labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” may come from another country?
Consider the irony: Australia is a leading beef exporter into the U.S. and has just implemented a mandatory retail Country of Origin Labeling requirement. That means Australian producers can get a premium in their own country from consumers who want to buy local – and ALSO get a premium in this country from consumers who THINK they are buying from U.S. producers!
Help us change the USDA’s policy so that American consumers can be confident in their choice to buy from American farmers and ranchers.