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The Cattle Blog

Court documents allege mislabeling of U.S. beef

R-CALF USA and the Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) allege that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is mislabeling hundreds of millions of pounds of imported beef as "Products of the USA." The groups claim that the Tariff Act of 1930 requires imported beef to bear a label denoting the foreign country of origin of the beef all the way to the consumer, unless the beef undergoes a substantial transformation in the U.S.

Secretary Perdue disagreed, arguing in his court documents that imported beef is to be deemed and treated as domestic beef so long as the importing country's food safety standards are equivalent to U.S. standards. Consequently, the secretary allows multinational meat packers to label imported beef as a "Product of the USA" even if the imported beef receives only minor processing, such as unwrapping and rewrapping the package.

Evidence submitted by the groups indicates that U.S. cattle producers received higher prices for their cattle when the origins of foreign beef was distinguished in the marketplace. Evidence attached to Friday's filing supports the groups' contention that proper enforcement of the Tariff Act would require hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign beef that currently can be labeled as "Products of the USA" to bear country-of-origin labels. This, the groups argue, would turn market forces "in favor of true domestic producers."