South Dakota and American cattle producers raise the best beef in the world. Many families specifically seek out these high-quality products when choosing what beef to purchase at the grocery store. However, some families may not realize that not all meat labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” is actually beef from cattle raised within the United States. Current federal regulations include a loophole that allows beef from livestock born, raised and slaughtered in foreign countries to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” as long as the beef undergoes additional processing at a plant in the U.S. This is wrong.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and I recently introduced legislation to address this issue. The U.S. Beef Integrity Act would make certain that the “Product of the U.S.A.” label only goes on beef and beef products exclusively derived from one or more animals born, raised and slaughtered here in the United States. We also wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of administrative changes that would prevent beef from cattle born, raised and slaughtered in foreign countries from being labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.” This change would be a win for both consumers and our hardworking cattle ranchers here in the U.S.
Consumers deserve transparency when they’re purchasing beef. When South Dakota families purchase beef labeled “Product of the U.S.A.,” they should know with certainty that it is coming from one of our top-quality producers. This does not mean we should close the door to other options as well – far from it. I’m glad we have a vast array of choices when we do our grocery shopping. Our bill simply closes the misleading labeling loophole so you’ll never be unsure where your beef came from when you’re at the grocery store meat counter.
When consumers have greater choice, it results in more innovation in the market and fairer prices. Earlier this year, I introduced legislation that would open up new markets for South Dakota producers. Our bill would allow meat and poultry products inspected by state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines. Right now, 27 states have state inspection programs that meet or exceed federal inspection standards. However, under current law, products processed at these facilities can’t be sold across state lines. Producers have to take extra steps if they want to expand their market reach.
Our farmers and ranchers work hard to deliver the best and safest food products in the world. When I purchase beef at the store, I want to know with certainty that it is an American product. Our beef labeling bill and our meat inspection bill will provide consumers with greater transparency and choice when they’re at the grocery store.