Product of the USA Label Ruling

Regulation Supports USA Label to Show Meat's Origin From Farm to Fork

Jennifer Carrico
By  Jennifer Carrico , Senior Livestock Editor
A new USDA ruling will help consumers understand where their meat comes from, with Product of the USA visible. (Getty Images photo)

REDFIELD, Iowa (DTN) -- The ongoing discussion of adding a Product of the USA label to meat hit another milestone last week, as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the finalization of a rule to align the voluntary label claim with consumer understanding of what it means.

The new USDA rule will limit the voluntary retail label only to meat, poultry and egg products from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the U.S. USDA said this will help eliminate misleading U.S. origin labeling and help make the information clearer for consumers.

"Today's announcement is a vital step toward consumer protection," said Vilsack. "This final rule will ensure that when consumers see 'Product of USA,' they can trust the authenticity of that label and know that every step involved, from birth to processing, was done here in America."


National Cattlemen's Beef Association Executive Director of Government Affairs Kent Bacus said in a statement the group has been committed to finding solutions to this problem ever since a producer-led NCBA working group raised the alarm, years ago, that imported beef could be mislabeled as a Product of the USA incorrectly at the end of the supply chain.

"We appreciate USDA's effort to address this loophole. During the implementation period, NCBA's focus will remain on ensuring that these changes result in the opportunity for producer premiums while remaining trade compliant," Bacus said.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said in a statement that the ruling is a welcome end to consumer deception. "No longer will multinational meatpackers be allowed to trick consumers into believing that foreign beef was produced by United States cattle farmers and ranchers."

Farm Action, an organization who works for a fair, sustainable, and healthy food system while empowering farmers, ranchers and rural communities, agreed that this rule addresses a loophole created by the repeal of mandatory country-of-origin labeling in 2015: Multinational meatpacking corporations began placing a "Product of U.S.A." label on imported meat repackaged in the U.S.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said in a statement that the ruling helps the restoration of integrity to the Product of the USA label. "For years, we've called on the USDA to take action to stop foreign beef from using the Product of the USA voluntary label. Our work is finally paying off," he said.

Rounds continued that these rule changes are a victory for American consumers and producers. "Now that this rule has been finalized, our consumers will no longer be misled by a Product of the USA label that had previously been permitted for use on foreign products. Hardworking American producers will no longer be at a disadvantage in the marketplace, where their high-quality product had previously been labeled the same as foreign beef," he added.


The National Pork Producers Council pointed out concern that the regulations will strain the relationships between the U.S. and its trading partners, particularly Canada and Mexico, and could result in disputes being filed with the World Trade Organization or under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) against the U.S., with a likelihood of tariff retaliation against U.S. goods, particularly agricultural products.

Others think this is a step in the direction of helping consumers understand where their food comes from but would like to see mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) return.

"We need to address meat packer concentration and mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef in order to restore transparency and fairness to the cattle market. The work must continue, and I remain committed to fight for American ranchers and consumers," Rounds said.

R-CALF USA has had long-standing support of MCOOL. Bullard said, "Congress needs to pass MCOOL as quickly as possible to require all beef sold in grocery stores to be labeled as to where the animal from which the beef was derived was born, raised, and slaughtered. Only then will consumers be informed as to which beef was produced by American cattle farmers and ranchers and which beef was produced under some foreign country's food safety regime."

The Product of the USA or Made in the USA labeling will continue to be voluntary under the final rule. The final rule also allows the use of other voluntary U.S.-origin claims on meat, poultry and egg products sold in the marketplace, which include what is done in the U.S. upon which the label states.

Packers voluntarily using a claim subject to the final rule will need to comply with the new regulatory requirements by Jan. 1, 2026, and are encouraged to do so as soon as practicable after the publication of this final rule.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached at

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Jennifer Carrico