If you think meat labeled “Product of U.S.A.” should come from cattle actually raised in the U.S.—not imported from other countries—you’re not alone.

The American Grassfed Association (AGA) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) have submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services Agency change its labeling policy so that imported beef can no longer be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” just because the meat passed through a U.S.-based inspection plant, or was blended with meat from cattle actually born and raised in the U.S.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT AUGUST 17: Sign the petition to help U.S. grassfed meat producers stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.”

More than ever, consumers want to know how our food was produced and where it came from.

When we spend 35 – 60 percent more for grass-finished rather than grain-finished meat, we expect that price premium to deliver certain health benefits

Most consumers choose grassfed meat for health reasons. We want to avoid the unhealthy fats, pathogens and toxic residues associated with meat that comes from factory farms, and get the healthy fats—especially inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid(CLA)—that pasture produces.

When we buy direct from farmers, we know where that price premium is going. We can feel good about supporting a family farm that, in addition to supplying us with healthy food, is also providing environmental benefits and an economic boost to the local area.

But when we shop at a grocery store, we have to rely on the label. Organic Consumers Association recommends buying “USDA Organic” meat that is also “American Grassfed” certified. (USDA Organic meat is allowed to be grain-finished.)

We would also tell you to look for meat labeled “Product of U.S.A.” if that label meant that the meat came from animals raised from birth in the U.S. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

According AGA and OCM, “current policy allows foreign meat to be imported into the U.S. and bear the label ‘Product of U.S.A.’ if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant, and the abuses of this label are rampant.”

To fix this problem, AGA and OCM filed a “Petition for change to the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) Standards and Labeling Policy Book on ‘Product of U.S.A.’” FSIS will accept public comments on the petition though August 17, 2018.

Current labeling policy discriminates against U.S. producers

Polls show that 93 percent of consumers want country of origin labeling (COOL) on meat. For more than one-third of the U.S. consumers, the origin of beef is a “deciding factor” when purchasing steaks. Consumers are willing to pay a 19-percent premium for the “U.S.A. Guaranteed” steak.

Given the consumer demand for U.S. meat, U.S. producers should be doing great. However, without accurate labels, imports have flooded the market. As a result, prices for U.S. farmers and ranchers have tanked while factory farm meat producers like Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS are enjoying windfall profits.

In 2015, imports of beef increased by 33 percent and the U.S. cattle market price dropped by 30 percent. The next year, in 2016, beef processors’ profits rose $199-per-head while U.S. cattle producers saw a $533-per-head-decline. Cattle producers saw their retail earnings decline from $0.44 on the dollar in 2014, to just $0.22 in 2018, a loss of 50 percent of retail value.

Grassfed producers have been hit hardest. The growing demand for grassfed meat has created a huge opportunity. But without truthful labels, U.S farmers have missed out. Sales of grassfed meat are nearly doubling annually.  But this hasn’t helped struggling U.S. producers, as 80 percent of the grassfed beef market is supplied by imports, compared with the total beef market where imports make up only 9 percent.

It’s time for consumers to demand accurate labeling—for their own interests, and to help support U.S. producers of grassfed beef.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT AUGUST 17: Sign the petition to help U.S. grassfed meat producers stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.”