Under a new rule, food processors will be able to put “Product of USA” on packages of meat, poultry, and egg products only if the animals were born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Until now, the labels could be pasted on foreign meat that was processed in America.

Consumers and U.S. farmers will benefit from the new restrictions, said Vilsack in a speech to the National Farmers Union convention in Phoenix. A 2021 USDA survey found a “significant portion” of consumers believed the “Made in the USA” or “Product of USA” label meant native animals.

“There’s an extended period of time before formal implementation but we are now on record as being for the utilization of that label only when the animal is born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States,” said Vilsack. NFU members applauded the announcement.

The new rule takes effect in 60 days. Compliance becomes mandatory on Jan. 1, 2026. “We’re encouraging adoption of that rule as quickly as possible,” said Vilsack.

Farm Action, a group that promotes “bold solutions to stop corporate monopolies” and “fair competition in rural America,” said the new labeling rule was “a major win.”

“For years, global corporations have cheated American farmers and deceived consumers by bringing meat in the United States and repackaging it with a “Product of USA” label. This criminal practice ends today,” said Farm Action.

When the USDA proposed the labeling rule a year ago, the meat industry said it might violate trade rules. The “Product of USA” labels are voluntary. Congress repealed mandatory country-of-origin labels for meat in late 2015 after the WTO twice ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico that the labels were a trade barrier in disguise against imported livestock.

To read the “Product of USA” rule, click here.

Source: FERN's Ag Insider | Published on March 12, 2024