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New USDA Rules on Country of Origin Labeling

written by

Travis Cole

posted on

May 24, 2024

A Step Forward for Transparency: New "Product of the USA" Labeling Rules

On March 11, the USDA finalized new requirements for the "Product of the USA" labeling claim. This is a significant victory for transparency and fairness in food labeling. Here's some background on why this change was necessary and long overdue.


The Evolution of Grass-Fed Beef

In the mid-1990s, the industrial beef production business was facing significant issues. Observant farmers began shifting away from industrial methods towards more sustainable farming practices, much like we do today. This shift marked the beginning of what we now call “Grass Fed Beef,” a term that was uncommon 30 years ago.

Transitioning from industrial cattle production to grass-fed beef was not easy. Many farmers experienced significant financial losses during the early years, breaking a 20+ year streak of profitability in industrial beef production.

A Fortunate Turn of Events

Around 2000, Whole Foods Market and Publix Supermarket began buying and marketing "American Grass-fed Beef.” This created a profitable market for grass-fed beef producers for about 15 years. Both grocery chains were eager to buy as much grass-fed beef as they could produce, supporting sustainable farming practices and ensuring profitability for farmers.

The 2015 USDA Rule Change

This profitability began to erode after 2015, when the USDA redefined "Product of the USA" for beef. Previously, beef labeled as a product of the USA had to be born, raised, and processed in the USA. The new rule allowed beef from other countries, such as Uruguay and Australia, to be labeled as “Product of the USA” if any processing occurred in the USA. This misled consumers and undermined American producers.

Fighting for Fair Labeling

For nearly a decade, American Grass-fed Cattlemen fought against this unfair rule. We finally succeeded in changing it. The new rule will take effect in January 2026. Until then, be cautious and know your beef's origins. Even after the change, labeling is voluntary. Imported beef can still be sold without indicating its origin; it just can't be labeled "Product of the USA" anymore after January 1, 2026.

USDA Announcement

USDA Finalizes New Requirements for the Voluntary “Product of USA” Labeling Claim

The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a final rule with new regulatory requirements for the voluntary “Product of the USA” claim to better align it with consumer understanding. The rule allows the “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” claim only on FSIS-regulated products from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States. Although this is a voluntary claim and country-of-origin labeling is still not required, we support this revision for its potential to enhance clarity and transparency in food labeling.

In Summary

Let's be clear. Producers in countries like Australia do produce excellent beef. However, it's important that retailers no longer mislead consumers about its origins.

At Pure Pasture Farms, we ensure transparency and integrity in our labeling, so you always know you’re getting genuine American grass-fed beef.

Together, let's nurture our planet, one bite at a time.

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