The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is clearing up some requirements in the meat industry.
Last year, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchased $800 million worth of meat products for use in nutrition assistance programs such as free school meals. That meat must fall under the requirements of domestic origin. However, those requirements are confusing to some. In fact, the AMS said the guidelines for procuring beef, pork, lamb, and bison products were not as clear as other commodities.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters last week that the AMS is clarifying that meat products must be from animals that are born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S. to meet the domestic origin requirements.
“We know two things: One, when they see that label or similar label, their expectation and belief is that in fact everything done with that animal and that product was done in the US; and two that they actually do put some degree of value on that in in terms of their decision whether to purchase the product and to purchase it If in fact it may be a slightly higher price,” Vilsack said. “So, because of that, we’re working to ensure that anyone who is placing a label of that kind on a product that they are not misrepresenting the true nature of the product.”
Vilsack repeated that this is not a new rule, rather it is the clarification of an existing rule.
“We’re just making sure that people understand and appreciate what it actually means so there’s no confusion,” he said. “We’re reiterating and reinforcing the fact that domestic origin means exactly that. It means everything having to do with that product was done in the US.”
AMS says this clarification to the domestic origin requirement will ensure U.S. producers enjoy the full benefit of USDA purchase programs and recipients of nutrition assistance programs benefit from domestically produced meat products.