U.S. Grassfed Meat Producers Need Your Help—Act By Midnight September 17

Sign the Petition!

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The current Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” allows cheap foreign beef to pass through USDA-inspected plants or be blended with U.S. beef to gain the increased market price that unwitting consumers pay for meat they think was raised in the U.S.

Research has shown that as many as 93 percent of Americans want to know where their food comes from and 75 percent of Americans indicate the source of origin of their food is a major attribute when making their food choices. The current FSIS policy misleads Americans when they are making their purchases and denies America’s family farmers these food dollars. FSIS food labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” should be based on the source of the ingredients. 

By misbranding foreign meat and meat products as “Product of U.S.A.” the current FSIS labeling policy deceives America’s consumers who have clearly demonstrated they will pay a premium for meat and meat products sourced domestically 

Australia is a leading beef exporter into the U.S. and has just implemented a mandatory retail Country of Origin Labeling requirement. The current U.S. policy that allows Australian beef to pass through a USDA-inspected facility and then to be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” clearly gives Australian ranchers and foreign interests a grossly unfair marketing advantage over American family farmers by allowing these foreign interests to receive a premium in both the U.S. and Australian market. 

Both the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and FSIS regulations clearly establish that meat and meat product labels must not mislead the consumer nor must they be false. FMIA states that meat or meat food products shall be “misbranded” if its “labeling is false or misleading in any particular.”

The current FSIS policy on labeling “Product of U.S.A.” must be clarified to correctly reflect the federal law ensuring U.S. consumers are not misled or deceived. 

Please restrict the use of the “Product of U.S.A.” label to meat from animals raised in the U.S.

Highlander cow grazingUpdate: Following a “significant interest from stakeholders,” the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the public comment period from August 17, 2018, to a new deadline: September 17, 2018.

If you think meat labeled “Product of U.S.A.” should come from cattle actually raised in the U.S.—not imported from other countries—you’re not alone.

The American Grassfed Association (AGA) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) have submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services Agency change its labeling policy so that imported beef can no longer be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” just because the meat passed through a U.S.-based inspection plant, or was blended with meat from cattle actually born and raised in the U.S.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT SEPTEMBER 17: Sign the petition to help U.S. grassfed meat producers stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.”

More than ever, consumers want to know how our food was produced and where it came from.

When we spend 35 - 60 percent more for grass-finished rather than grain-finished meat, we expect that price premium to deliver certain health benefits

Most consumers choose grassfed meat for health reasons. We want to avoid the unhealthy fats, pathogens and toxic residues associated with meat that comes from factory farms, and get the healthy fats—especially inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)—that pasture produces.

When we buy direct from farmers, we know where that price premium is going. We can feel good about supporting a family farm that, in addition to supplying us with healthy food, is also providing environmental benefits and an economic boost to the local area.

But when we shop at a grocery store, we have to rely on the label. Organic Consumers Association recommends buying “USDA Organic” meat that is also “American Grassfed” certified. (USDA Organic meat is allowed to be grain-finished.)

We would also tell you to look for meat labeled “Product of U.S.A.” if that label meant that the meat came from animals raised from birth in the U.S. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

According AGA and OCM, “current policy allows foreign meat to be imported into the U.S. and bear the label ‘Product of U.S.A.’ if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant, and the abuses of this label are rampant.”

To fix this problem, AGA and OCM filed a “Petition for change to the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) Standards and Labeling Policy Book on ‘Product of U.S.A.’” FSIS will accept public comments on the petition though August 17, 2018. See update above for new deadline.

Current labeling policy discriminates against U.S. producers

Polls show that 93 percent of consumers want country of origin labeling (COOL) on meat. For more than one-third of the U.S. consumers, the origin of beef is a “deciding factor” when purchasing steaks. Consumers are willing to pay a 19-percent premium for the “U.S.A. Guaranteed” steak.

Given the consumer demand for U.S. meat, U.S. producers should be doing great. However, without accurate labels, imports have flooded the market. As a result, prices for U.S. farmers and ranchers have tanked while factory farm meat producers like Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS are enjoying windfall profits.

In 2015, imports of beef increased by 33 percent and the U.S. cattle market price dropped by 30 percent. The next year, in 2016, beef processors’ profits rose $199-per-head while U.S. cattle producers saw a $533-per-head-decline. Cattle producers saw their retail earnings decline from $0.44 on the dollar in 2014, to just $0.22 in 2018, a loss of 50 percent of retail value.

Grassfed producers have been hit hardest. The growing demand for grassfed meat has created a huge opportunity. But without truthful labels, U.S farmers have missed out. Sales of grassfed meat are nearly doubling annually.  But this hasn’t helped struggling U.S. producers, as 80 percent of the grassfed beef market is supplied by imports, compared with the total beef market where imports make up only 9 percent.

It’s time for consumers to demand accurate labeling—for their own interests, and to help support U.S. producers of grassfed beef.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT SEPTEMBER 17: Sign the petition to help U.S. grassfed meat producers stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.”


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