Do you know where your beef is from? Chances are you don’t.
Just because your beef is stamped ”USDA” does not mean that it came from cattle in the USA.
Beef sold in the United States is sourced from over 20 different countries and comes here to be packaged and gets stamped “USDA.” The majority of cattle comes from Canada or Mexico but even those countries have vastly different laws than the US on caring for that cattle.
Can you know where your beef is raised, processed, and packaged?
No, meatpackers are able to put “Product of U.S.A.” on meat that is packaged here, even if the animals were raised in another country.
Current labeling laws for beef do not require the country of origin to be listed on the packaging so that you, the consumer, can make your own educated decision on what you want to buy at the store.
Most grass-fed beef labeled “Product of the USA” is in fact Imported, according to Bloomberg News.
The United States economy suffers a $13.6 billion annual loss to its largest sector of American agriculture: the U.S. cattle industry. We are losing farmers and ranchers in large numbers!
Grass-fed beef may cost $1.55 per pound for a large U.S. producer and more than $3 per pound for a small U.S. producer, however the cost in Australia might be 59 cents per pound. The cost of non-grass-fed beef is similar.
Because of the current labeling laws most Americans assume when they’re buying USDA beef that the cattle came from the USA and they are willing to pay a slightly higher price because of it. However those higher prices end up being for cattle that is not from America at all – even though you’re paying like it is.
4 reasons we need Made in USA beef
Supporting beef producers, farmers, and cattlemen is important for a number of reasons. A few include:
- Creating a food supply that can support our nation. As these cattle farms go out of business, our nation loses the ability to feed ourselves in times of crisis, disease, pandemics, etc. For example this e.coli contamination on 43,000 pounds of beef in June 2020. Others include mad-cow disease (BSE), foot-and-mouth disease, etc., some of which can spread to human consumers
- The USA has a great number of laws that require excellent care of animals, and many countries do not take the same care for your health or that of the animals. Animal cruelty in other countries is a concern and it is responsible for us to choose meat from nations that care for animals in humane ways.
- There have been times over the years where issues have come up in specific nations with diseased animals or contamination. Without label laws, consumers can not be certain where their beef is coming from. While the USDA monitors for these conditions, we believe your health is your individual responsbility, and you cannot make informed decisions without country of origin labeling on your beef.
- Our national economy. Supporting American beef producers aids our own economy! Boosting jobs and suppliers here in the USA is a benefit to us all.
What reasons would you add to this list? Comment below!
We’re constantly updating content and want to hear and include what’s important to you.
What is needed to identify American Made beef at the grocery store?
We need to transform and increase our labeling information, but instead, Congress voted to end the requirement that meat labels have to tell us where the meat is from in 2015.
For the last 5 years, our meat has increasingly been outsourced while stamped “USDA” but coming from 20 different countries and expanding (this year we accepted beef from Namibia for the first time).
Legislation has tried to be changed for over 20 years so that you, the consumer, know a lot more information about where your beef comes from.
Currently, meat packaging groups in the USA work to stop the labeling laws from changing because you were assuming that the beef is made in USA and willing to pay more for it benefits their bottom line.
The beef and lamb industries in the United States are dominated by ONLY 4 meatpackers. While one would expect groups like National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) to support the consumer’s demand for country of origin labeling on beef, they do not. When you look at NCBA’s lobbying efforts, this does not come up and is not supported.
Organizations like R-CALF USA represent the independent cattle producers across the United States that are hurt by our current labeling laws. R-CALF USA has been leading the efforts, along with us at The Made in America Movement, to require country of origin labeling on beef, so that you the consumer can make an informed decision.
Our cattle producers need our voices to finally get legislation made that will require our beef to have the country of origin printed on the label when we buy it.
It is to your benefit to be educated on the label before you buy beef for your home, but large lobby groups for those who do the packaging do not want the labels to have more information because (among other reasons) they get much higher profits off of American consumers assuming the beef comes from the USA.
How can you help get legislation passed to label beef?
- Reach out to your Senators and Representative. Calls and emails from constituents mean more than you may realize. Take 2 minutes now, that’s all it takes.
- When you reach out, you want to ask them to sponsor new legislation to fully restore Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) for beef.
Imagine the implications if your Senators and Representative would lead the way in providing consumers the full picture on the food they buy!
Finally, sign R-CALF USA’s petition (over 394k people have signed) that is being sent to Congress (click for the R-CALF petition) asking for Country of Origin Labeling for Beef, Pork and Dairy Products.
How to guarantee you buy only USA beef
Until legislation is passed that will change things at the grocery store, if you want to get beef that you know is from the USA – You can find local beef producers on the very convenient website: http://usabeef.org/producer-list/
This site lets you search by City, County or State to find a local beef producer near you. You can also search by shipping options such as Local Pickup, Local Delivery, Statewide Shipping, or National Shipping.