• American Grassfed Association Applauds USDA’s Proposed Rule on “Product of USA” Label Claim



    Carrie Balkcom
    Executive Director, American Grassfed Association
    (303) 591-3978

    American Grassfed Association Applauds USDA’s Proposed Rule on “Product of USA” Label Claim

    American Grassfed Association celebrates USDA’s proposed rule to limit the “Product of USA” label exclusively to meat, poultry, and eggs derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States. The proposed rule aims to align the voluntary label claim with consumer understanding and ensure accurate and truthful labeling for informed purchasing decisions. This announcement delivers on a commitment made in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain. This is an important step toward closing the loophole that has allowed multinational corporations to import meat and pass it off as a higher-quality product raised by U.S. farmers and ranchers.

    American Grassfed Association and Joe Maxwell, President and Cofounder of Farm Action filed a petition in 2018 that led to the USDA’s comprehensive review to understand the “Product of USA” label claim’s meaning to consumers. This petition prompted the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to take up the issue in March of 2022. A nationwide consumer survey commissioned by USDA in July of 2021 to understand what the “Product of USA” claim means to consumers and inform the proposed rulemaking revealed that the current labeling claim misleads a majority of consumers, with a significant portion believing the claim means that the product was made from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.

    The AGA believes that truthful labels protect consumers and keep the playing field fair. Carrie Balkcom, Executive Director of AGA, said, “Deceptive labeling has undercut the profitability of American grassfed producers. As grassfed beef sales continue to rise, U.S.-based producers are forced to compete with products from offshore that may or may not meet the same criteria that American family farmers adhere to. AGA applauds USDA’s proposed rule, but we urge Congress to restore MCOOL to protect American farmers, ranchers, and consumers.”

    Greg Gunthorp, AGA Board Member and American Producer added, “Rules requiring born, raised, slaughtered, and processed to use Product of USA will provide domestic farmers and small processors huge opportunities to compete fairly in the grassfed and USDA procurement program. I can only hope this is but the first step of many in ensuring truthful labels in the US.”

    While the proposed rule is a step in the right direction, American Grassfed Association believes Congress must act to restore Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for beef and pork, requiring meat and meat products to disclose the country where the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered. Currently, MCOOL only covers lamb, chicken, and other food commodities, and in 2015, Congress directed the USDA to roll back this law for beef and pork, allowing these products to be sold without country designation on the label.

    American Grassfed Association applauds USDA’s commitment to ensuring accurate and truthful product labeling and encourages all stakeholders to comment on the proposed rule.

    Public comments can be submitted at

    About American Grassfed Association:

    American Grassfed Association is the national organization supporting independent family farmers raising livestock on pasture, encouraging sustainable and regenerative farming practices, and promoting the production and consumption of grassfed meat and dairy products.

    To learn more, visit


  • AGA Not So Sure of USDA’s NACMPI Appointees

    Denver, CO — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the appointment of 10 new members of the 15-member National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI). Though USDA claims in its release on the subject that these members “represent a diverse group distinguished by their knowledge and interest in meat and poultry safety,” the newest members, along with members already serving on the committee, fail to represent niche agriculture, nor small or very small processing plants—adding yet another insult to America’s independent family farmers, ranchers and processors across the nation. What’s more: Brazilian-owned JBS, the largest meat producer in the world whose leaders have been convicted of bribing thousands of inspectors and politicians in Brazil to allow the sale of expired and rotten meat, now has a seat at USDA’s table.

    “To give seats on this committee to company representatives of a foreign corporation that has been fraught with corruption and bribery charges is just wrong on many levels,” said Carrie Balkcom, executive director of American Grassfed Association (AGA), a national organization that provides certification, market support, education, research and advocacy on behalf of grassfed producers and supporters throughout the U.S. “The announcement of the appointees to the USDA advisory committee for meat and poultry is again a slap in the face of the farmers and ranchers that have proven time and time again that they are the backbone of American agriculture.”

    “A government that is fair, reasonable, responsible and accountable represents all producers, processors and consumers,” said Greg Gunthorp, a Midwest independent farmer and processor. “This committee should be a diverse mixture across the whole industry.”

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., we have seen the industrial animal production system’s inability to pivot in the face of global crisis. Industrial-scale slaughterhouses swiftly emerged as coronavirus hot spots, infecting and killing workers and causing a ripple effect of harm to surrounding communities and cities throughout the U.S. Spikes in illness lead to the shutdown of processing plants, leaving store shelves empty, increased prices on meat and poultry, the killing, burial and/or composting of millions of animals . Meanwhile, April saw some of the industry’s highest exports of poultry to China. The current industrial-scale system is not built with the best interests of American consumers and independent farmers, ranchers and processors in mind, and the USDA’s latest committee appointment announcement further shows the agency’s willingness to ignore this reality.

    Small, independent, niche producers and processors were able to quickly react to the COVID-19 crisis, seamlessly providing food to their communities throughout the month when grocery store shelves remained bare. “We are the resilient portion of the U.S. food supply and an integral portion of a food and national security program going forward,” Gunthorp, an AGA board of director member and policy committee member, wrote in a recent letter shared via email with industry and AGA members. “What happened this year in our food supply should be a wake-up call that our food supply, while very efficient and productive when clicking, is very fragile. It’s in the best interest of the country to make every effort to support the resilient portion of the food supply … the domestic small processors … not the foreign, large processors.”

    This is why we need niche, small- and very small-scale producers and processors serving all USDA committees—especially NACMPI. “Local family farms and farmers stepped up to the task and, without major handouts from the government, proved that they can provide good and safe food for their neighbors and communities,” said Balkcom. “We need to have seats at this table. We need a balance of academics and practitioners at this table, and we don’t have it.”

    American Grassfed Association (AGA) is a national organization that provides certification, market support, education, research, and advocacy on behalf of grassfed producers and supporters. AGA offers independent family farms and ranches use of the first and only national grassfed certification program developed by grassfed ranchers, scientists, veterinarians, and other industry experts.

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