A bipartisan group U.S. senators are introducing the USA Beef Act, a bill that would limit the use of the “Product of USA” label only to beef products from cattle that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States. Current U.S. Department of Agriculture rules allow for beef raised in other countries but that may have other ties to the U.S. to receive this label.
In a statement announcing this new measure, which is being led by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), the group says this bill “restores integrity to a currently misleading, but ultimately valuable tool for consumers and cattle producers.”
The USA Beef Act comes a little more than a month after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilack said that the “Product of the USA” label on meat products should undergo a full-scale review. Industry groups, such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, have had opposing views on how labeling should be implemented.
“It’s pretty simple — only beef born, raised and slaughtered in the United States should receive the ‘Product of USA’ label,” said Rounds. “As I continue to work with my colleagues on re-establishing mandatory country of origin labeling, we must fix the current labels to protect consumers and producers. For far too long, South Dakota producers have suffered as their high-quality, American-raised beef has lost value as it’s mixed with foreign beef, raised, and processed under different standards. This is wrong.”
This issue has long been a passion point for Rounds, whose home state of South Dakota is fifth nationally in terms of beef production. Two years ago, he helped introduced the U.S. Beef Integrity Act, a measure strikingly similar to the newly announced USA Beef Act.
“Consumers deserve to know where their beef comes from and accurate, transparent labeling supports American farmers and ranchers. It’s long past time we fix this once and for all,” Rounds said.
He is joined in sponsoring this bill by Republican Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), John Thune (S.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), and Steve Daines (Mont.), as well as Democratic Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.).
Booker’s involvement in this measure is, perhaps, most intriguing, because he has stood in opposition to many elements of the American livestock industry, including pushing for the Farm System Reform Act, which would ban CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in the nation. That measure, which was reintroduced this summer, is still pending in Congress.
The USA Beef Act is endorsed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF, the South Dakota Farmers Union, and the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.