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S.D. Farmers Union Thanks Rounds and Thune for Supporting Cattle Producers with U.S. Beef Integrity Act

Posted on: November 4, 2019   |   Categories: Meat Labeling, News Releases
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South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) thanks South Dakota Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune for their support of South Dakota cattle producers through the introduction of the U.S. Beef Integrity Act.

“This Act gives proper urgency to the Product of USA labeling dilemma. Our Senators’ action in introducing the U.S. Beef Integrity Act shows their dedication and support for our family farmers and ranchers – thank you,” said Doug Sombke, SDFU President and fourth-generation Conde crop and cattle farmer.  “U.S. cattle producers raise the best beef in the world, bar none. Since the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in 2015, U.S. cattle producers have suffered from declining markets because without proper labeling, there cannot be competitive markets. SDFU has been advocating for policy to protect U.S.-raised beef’s reputation so our cattle producers receive a fair return on their investment. The U.S. Beef Integrity Act does this.”

Introduced October 30, the U.S. Beef Integrity Act would make certain that the “Product of the U.S.A.” label only goes to beef and beef products exclusively derived from one or more animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not require that beef be born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. This loophole allows beef from livestock born and raised in foreign countries to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” as long as the beef undergoes additional processing in a U.S. processing plant.

 “The current labeling laws are misleading. Consumer surveys show they want to be informed about what they are feeding their families and where their food originates. Know that SDFU will use every tool in our toolbox to assist advancing the U.S. Beef Integrity Act into law,” Sombke said.

In addition to the U.S. Beef Integrity Act, Thune and Rounds wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to offer support for administrative changes to the FSIS beef labeling requirements.

The text of the letter, as posted to Sen. Rounds’ website reads:

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to express our support for the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s petition requesting the establishment of certain beef labeling requirements.

As you may know, concerns have been raised around the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the qualifications for labeling beef as a “Product of the U.S.A.”  Specifically, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not currently require that beef be born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label.  As a result, beef from cattle that are born, raised, and slaughtered in another country can be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” so long as the beef undergoes additional processing in a USDA-inspected plant.

Our farmers and ranchers work hard to deliver the highest-quality and safest food products in the world. Americans recognize this, and they want to know where their food is coming from.  Unfortunately, without clear parameters, the current “Product of the U.S.A.” label can be misleading to consumers and can result in imported beef being labeled as though it is of U.S. origin.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  We look forward to your response.