REBUILDING LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS: INDIANA FARMER GREG GUNTHORP STANDS UP FOR RURAL AMERICA IN HOUSE JUDICIARY SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING
LaGrange, Indiana – June 22, 2023
The American Grassfed Association (AGA), a national organization that safeguards and promotes grassfed producers and grassfed products, proudly reports the testimony of Greg Gunthorp, an Indiana resident, owner of Gunthorp Farms, and AGA board member. Gunthorp testified at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust hearing on June 13, 2023.
In his compelling address, Gunthorp raised essential points about the challenges and opportunities for small and medium-sized farms in rural America. He also shed light on the stringent government regulations affecting the growth of the meat processing industry.
“We need subsidy reform, antitrust enforcement, truth in labels, and inspection reform if we are to rebuild local and regional food systems,” Gunthorp stressed. “We need a new game, where everyone has a chance for success, including the smaller scrappy players who are willing to put their time and energy into it.”
Gunthorp’s testimony highlighted the importance of addressing USDA inspection issues and promoting fair market access as vital steps towards revitalizing local and regional food systems. He suggested reforms such as redefining establishment sizes, establishing an ombudsman to address USDA dysfunction, ensuring complete rulemaking processes before enforcement, expanding inspection programs, restoring truth in labeling, prioritizing local/regional suppliers in USDA procurement, addressing agency revolving door and ethics issues, and enforcing strict antitrust regulations.
Gunthorp Farms, a shining example of local, high-quality, sustainable farming, is a pasture-based livestock and poultry farm with on-site USDA inspected slaughter and processing operations. Supplying premium products to high-profile clients like O’Hare Airport, Wrigley Clubhouse, and Disney, Gunthorp Farms is a testament to the potential success and influence of small, local farms.
The AGA stands with Gunthorp in advocating for policy reform that enables the growth and competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in meat processing. We believe that reducing regulatory barriers will invigorate rural economies, promote sustainable farming, and offer consumers more choices in the marketplace.
The AGA is committed to being a voice for independent farmers and to keeping rural America alive and thriving. We support and uphold the benefits of grassfed farming on domestic economies, rural communities, and the environment.
Gunthorp’s testimony serves as a reminder of the significant role that independent farmers and ranchers play in our food systems and the communities they nourish. The AGA is proud to be a part of this crucial conversation and will continue to work towards a future where the regulatory environment favors local, sustainable agriculture.
About the American Grassfed Association:
The American Grassfed Association is a national organization that provides certification, market support, education, research, and advocacy on behalf of grassfed producers and stakeholders. We promote the grassfed community through government relations, research, concept marketing, and public education. We stand in solidarity with Gunthorp Farms and other independent farmers who strive to provide food that tastes better, promotes health, rebuilds soil and communities, and offers more opportunities for all.
Learn more about AGA at https://www.americangrassfed.org/
Learn more about Gunthorp Farms at https://gunthorpfarms.com/
See the full testimony at https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cti9AG2PHIo/?igshid=MTc4MmM1YmI2Ng%3D%3D
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Executive Director, American Grassfed Association
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 https://www.regulations.gov.
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 www.americangrassfed.org.