Iversen: Current labeling practices are misleading
This is a win for not only the American independent cattle producers and feeders in the US, but maybe even more importantly the beef consumers across this nation!
Consumers expect and deserve a label on the beef they purchase to do more than just claim to be of US origin. Current labeling practices allow packers/retailers the opportunity to mislead consumers into thinking beef is born and raised in the United States by carrying a “Product of the USA” label on the packaging. According to the USDA and the beef packing industry it is currently acceptable to import lower quality and cheaper cattle/beef from other countries and then simply further process it so it qualifies to bear the “Product of the USA” mark.
Why would they do this you ask? The United States has the highest standards and regulations set forth by EPA, USDA and FDA to assure beef raised from cattle here is the safest, healthiest and most wholesome product available anywhere! Add to that our cattle producers and feeders commitment to quality, animal husbandry and environmental sustainability it’s no wonder marketing schemes have developed to mislead consumers and potentially drive the price down of American cattle by substituting them with inferior imported products.
When passed, the American Beef Labeling Act will assure consumers that when they pick up a package of beef at their grocery store and see a “Product of the USA” label they know that it has been born, raised and processed here and that their purchase is supporting American farmers and ranchers. Additionally, when this happens that money stays local and is turned again and again within our rural communities keeping small businesses and communities across America thriving and in business.
The opponents will try to convince you that this will raise beef prices to consumers. That is a lie and an excuse. It will not. They don’t need a reason to raise beef prices. Due to their shear size, marketplace presence/absence and oligopolistic antics they can control inputs through anti-competitive bidding practices and outputs through supply management and chain speed reductions. They hold all the cards they need to manipulate prices on both the ends. This has been obvious the last year when we have seen record high consumer beef prices while at the same time, the prices paid to US cattle producers and feeders were below break-even prices and have been for the last 5 years. Add to this, record high imports of cattle and beef and it’s not too hard to see what their agenda is. The true culprits are greed and shareholder profits!
What this Legislation will do, along with other pending legislation, is give the consumers confidence that what they are purchasing is actually “Made in America” and it will fairly compensate producers for raising it. Corporate agriculture has been on a money train for too long recording record profits to the big packers and returning huge dividends to shareholders and other passengers of the Big Ag train. Unfortunately these passengers are not the American consumers and producers!
Well folks, there is a new train on the tracks and it is gaining momentum and speed! I applaud Congress for siding with consumers and American cattle producers to push for Country of Origin labeling of beef. Something that should have happened long ago prior losing so many good American independent family farms and ranches. Contact your urban family members and friends and convince them to contact their members of Congress and support the American Beef Labeling Act.
Iversen Angus Ranch
White River, SD
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News