USDA proposes rule to close “Product of the USA” loophole

The USDA is proposing a change that would close a loophole allowing imported (comingled beef) to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.”

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Farmers Union in his address on Monday the proposed changes tighten the requirements for the voluntary labels for beef, pork, poultry, and egg products.  “You can only do it if the product was born here, raised here, slaughtered here, and processed here,” he says. 

South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke says the proposed rule is a good first step in providing more clarity for consumers.  He tells Brownfield he wouldn’t be surprised to see a new policy presented during Tuesday’s delegate session that strengthens the National Farmers Union’s policies on meat packaging and labeling. 

US Cattlemen’s Association president Justin Tupper a rancher from South Dakota says the proposed rule would provide clarity.  “A product of the USA label is voluntary, and this proposed rule would make sure that’s exactly what it is,” he says.  “That they aren’t misleading the consumers. There is no way they can label beef that is not born, raised, or slaughtered here in the United State something other than the product of the U.S.A.” He says the USCA first petitioned the UDSA’s Food Safety Inspection Service in 2019 to close the loophole.

Kent Bacus with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says there is no doubt that the current “Product of the U.S.A. label for beef is flawed and undercuts the ability of U.S. cattle producers to differentiate U.S. beef in the marketplace.  But, simply adding born, raised, and harvested requirements to an already broken label will fail to deliver additional value to cattle producers. He says the industry can’t afford to replace one flawed government label with another flawed government label.

The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days after publishing in the Federal Register. Public comments can be submitted at

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