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Ranch Group Welcomes End to Deceptive Origin Claims; Renews Call for MCOOL for Beef

BILLINGS, Mont., March 11, 2024 – Today, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its final rule on voluntary labeling of meat with “Product of USA” and “Made in the USA” labels. The final rule states that only meat from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States is eligible for such domestic origin labels.

Since Congress’s repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef in 2015, the USDA has allowed multinational meatpackers to mislabel beef that was produced exclusively from animals born, raised, and slaughtered in a foreign country with a “Product of the USA” label so long as the foreign beef was minimally processed in the United States. For example, a meatpacker needed only to unwrap and rewrap an exclusively foreign beef product in a U.S. processing plant to be eligible for the U.S. label.

“We welcome the end of this era of consumer deception,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “No longer will multinational meatpackers be allowed to trick consumers into believing that foreign beef was produced by United States cattle farmers and ranchers.”

Bullard said that while the final rule effectively ends the voluntary mislabeling of beef, it doesn’t require anyone to label anything.

“While this is an important step in the right direction, Congress needs to pass MCOOL as quickly as possible to require all beef sold in grocery stores to be labeled as to where the animal from which the beef was derived was born, raised, and slaughtered. Only then will consumers be informed as to which beef was produced by American cattle farmers and ranchers and which beef was produced under some foreign country’s food safety regime.”

Bullard said the inclusion of the American Beef Labeling Act (S. 52) or the Country of Origin Labeling Enforcement Act (H.R. 5081), both of which require country of origin labels on both domestic and foreign beef sold in grocery stores, is the most important step Congress can take in the 2024 Farm Bill to restore competition for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers.

“We should not have a Farm Bill without MCOOL,” he said.

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