Farm Progress America, March 18, 2024

Source: Farm Progress. The original article is posted here.

Farm Progress America, March 18, 2024

Mike Pearson tells us how the Product of the USA label has been changed and what it means to livestock producers.

For years, meat carried a voluntary label: Product of the USA.

However, that meat didn't necessarily need to come from an animal raised the United States.

All it needed was a USDA inspection and some light repackaging.

The loophole allowed meat processors to import foreign meat, process it and then put a "Product of the USA" label on it.

On March 13, the USDA announced a major rule change that seeks the label to be more clear, transparent and honest.

The new rule states that in order for meat to have the "Product of the USA" label, the animal in which the meat comes from must have been born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the USA.

Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack announced the change while speaking at the National Farmer's Union convention. He told the crowd, the announcement was a vital step towards consumer protection and would bolster trust and fairness in the marketplace where smaller processors can compete.

The announcement was met with applause and the American Farm Bureau Federal says they also support the rule change.

This rule is not a mandatory country of origin label or M-COOL.

Beef and pork sold the USA like the rest of the meat and produce used to be required to be labeled which country it came from. But in 2015, after losing cases at the World Trade Organization to Canada and Mexico and facing retaliatory tariffs, the mandatory labels were repealed for beef and pork.

By keeping this label voluntary, the USDA is hoping to keep impacts to the trade relationships with either country. Although officials say Canada is watching the rule closely.

The rule goes into effect in 60 days.

Enforcement of the rule will being Jan. 1, 2026.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness .

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