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USDA Closes Loophole that Allowed Transnational Meatpackers to Claim Imported Beef was from USA

BILLINGS, Montana: Today the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the finalization of their rule, Voluntary Labeling of Regulated Products with United States-Origin Claims. According to the USDA, this rule “allows the voluntary ‘Product of USA’ or ‘Made in the USA’ label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States. The rule will prohibit misleading U.S. origin labeling in the market, and help ensure that the information that consumers receive about where their food comes from is truthful. Voluntary claims must be compliant with these regulations by January 1, 2026.

Members of the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) applaud the long overdue closure of this loophole. Transnational meatpacking companies have been misleading their customers and undercutting the livelihoods of American ranchers by importing cheap beef, packing it in the US and marking it as USA beef.

“While the rule is a step in the right direction, it is not a win for producers or consumers,” said Ron Volk, a cattle rancher and Dakota Resource Council member from Beach, N.D. “It’s merely a consolation prize. Consumers have been lied to since 2015 and producers have been put at an unfair, competitive disadvantage. The only way to ensure consumer confidence and fair competitive practices for producers is to make country of origin labeling mandatory.”

While the USDA is on the right track, WORC urges Congress to include the American Beef Labeling Act (S.52) and the Country of Origin Labeling Enforcement Act (H.R.5081) as amendments to the 2024 Farm Bill. The passage of these bipartisan common sense bills combined with today’s actions at the USDA will ensure that meatpackers will no longer be able to lie by inclusion or omission about the origin of their products.

The work is not done, this new rule will only keep companies from lying to consumers using voluntary labels such as “product of the USA”. We need congress to finish the job by passing mandatory country of origin labeling legislation for beef as part of the 2024 Farm Bill.

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