Feds Are Changing 'Product of USA' Meat Rules

That 'product of USA' often isn't, it turns out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2021 11:15 AM CDT
Feds Are Changing 'Product of USA' Meat Rules
This June 28, 2012, file photo shows hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ill.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

It's something White House press secretary Jen Psaki learned "that I found a little outrageous," she says: Most grass-feed beef bearing the label "product of USA" is no such thing. Rather, it's raised and slaughtered abroad and then brought to the US for processing, and Psaki on Tuesday said President Biden plans to do away with that loophole. Via executive order, Biden will direct the USDA to update its rules so that meat simply processed in the US doesn't fall under that umbrella. Per the Hill, Psaki added that "the president and the USDA believe it is unfair for domestic farmers and ranchers to have to compete with foreign companies that are misleading consumers." The administration will also roll out a new rule that KSNW out of Kansas calls "a potential win for the small guys."

As part of the executive order, the administration will make it easier for farmers, under the Packers and Stockyards Act, to sue companies they contract with. Chicken and pork producers often must enter long-term contracts with companies such as Tyson Foods and Pilgrim's Pride that farmers say lock them into deals that fix their compensation at unprofitably low levels and force them deep into debt. As the AP explains, several court rulings have interpreted the federal law as saying a farmer must prove a company's actions harm competition in the entire industry before a lawsuit can move forward. The new rule would ease that high burden of proof. Meat processors say a sea of pricey lawsuits would follow; a rep for the nonprofit Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska counters: "The idea that [family farmers are] going to become ultimately extremely litigious and go out and [hire] every lawyer they can to sue the industry is, I think, a big exaggeration." (More farmers stories.)

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