Tester Statement on USDA’s Proposed Voluntary ‘Product of USA’ Labeling Rule
Following the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed rule which would allow the voluntary “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States, U.S. Senator Jon Tester released the following statement:
“Montana ranchers produce the best beef in the world, and American families should have the right to know when their food is actually a ‘Product of the USA,’ or the product of a broken food labeling system. The USDA’s proposed rule is a step in the right direction for consumers and producers, but Montanans know that half-measures won’t give folks needed certainty at the meat counter. Montana’s ranchers hold their beef to the highest possible standard, and after yet another late-reported BSE case in Brazil, folks in the Treasure State need Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling to ensure transparency and fairness in the market for producers and consumers alike.”
The USDA’s proposed rule would give American producers the option to label their meat, poultry, or egg products as a “Product of the USA” if the animals were born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States, but would not require country of origin labeling for producers. If large meatpackers opt-out of labeling their products as “Product of the USA,” they would be indistinguishable from foreign products.
As the Senate’s only working farmer, Tester has been Montana’s leader on reinstating Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL), most recently introducing his bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act with Senator John Thune (R-SD) in January, which would ensure that all beef raised in the United States is labeled as a product of the USA. Additionally, last month Tester introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) to suspend Brazilian beef imports to the United States until experts can conduct a systemic review of the commodity’s impacts on food safety and animal health.
Tester has long been Montana’s leading champion for family farmers and ranchers. He recently re-introduced his Meat Packing Special Investigator Act to fight consolidation by appointing a special investigator within USDA to address and prevent anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries. He also recently reintroduced his bipartisan Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, which would establish minimums for negotiated sales and require clear reporting of marketing contracts.