WASHINGTON – Industry groups are asking for more clarification from the federal government regarding origin labels on beef and pork labeling.

R-CALF USA filed comments on Sept. 14 to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to correct conflicts between federal law and the US Department of Agriculture’s standards for product labels using “Made in the U.S.A.” (MUSA) or equivalent claims. The comment period recently ended.

“We’re hopeful that the independent Federal Trade Commission can step in and help America’s independent ranchers,” said Bill Bullard, chief executive officer of R-CALF USA.

In 2015, Congress repealed mandatory country of origin labeling for beef and pork as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), or Omnibus bill.

R-CALF argues that the Tariff Act of 1930 requires imported beef to bear a country-of-origin label unless the beef is substantially transformed in the United States. In recent years, the US Dept. of Agriculture claimed that imported beef can be treated as domestic beef if the exporting country’s food safety standards meet US equivalency standards. R-CALF has said this interpretation of federal law led to imported beef being labeled as a US product even if the beef only received minor processing such as unwrapping and rewrapping of a package.

Family Farm Action alliance also submitted its comments this week regarding the FTC’s new proposals. The alliance supports the FTC’s ingredient origin standard’s language. However, it requested that the commission take another step and require any meat or meat product that has a MUSA label be 100% US “born, raised, and harvested,” not just “sourced.”

As written now, the proposed rule could allow a beef or pork animal born and raised outside of the United States, and then imported and harvested in the United States, in compliance with the “sourced” standard bear the MUSA label.

“Without the language change, it would be no better than USDA’s known meat country of origin loophole, and must be addressed in the upcoming rulemaking,” Family Farm Alliance said in its comments.