CLAYTON, N.C. — When people want to support American farmers, they buy local.
What You Need To Know
For years, cattlemen have asked the USDA to review the rules for using "Product of the USA" labels
Currently, American beef that is mixed with foreign beef in an American processing plant can use the label
Fred Smith says this hurts the smaller producers who are using all local beef
That’s why Fred Smith’s Pasture to Plate program has been so successful over the past year.
Smith’s ranch covers about 700 acres in Johnston County, and he works with a processor in the area to keep the entire operation in the county.
He says, however, the “Product of the USA” label is misleading when it comes to many other beef products.
“If foreign imported beef comes into the United States, and is processed or mixed with other beef in a facility that’s federally inspected, then they can put a ‘Product of USA’ label on that product,” Smith said. “It’s not true.”
He and other cattlemen have raised this issue with the USDA for years, and it looks like there might be change on the horizon.
The FTC announced earlier in July that they would begin penalizing people who commit label fraud after decades of letting it slide.
That doesn’t address the bigger issue for cattlemen, who can’t compete with larger producers who mix the beef.
“It affects our ability as producers to be profitable and sustainable by being able to deliver to our consumer a product that’s labeled truthfully and responsibly,” Smith said.
In his Executive Order, President Joe Biden asked the Secretary of Agriculture to consider defining the conditions that someone has to meet to use the “Product of the USA” label.
The secretary said in a statement that the department would do a full review of the process.
The Smiths say they hope this puts the power back in the hands of consumers, so they can truly know they are getting beef made in the USA.