The process of meat labeling in the United States might be in need of a serious government intervention, according to former rancher Bill Bullard.
Bullard said, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), multinational meat packers, which control 85 percent of the market, are able to import cheaper beef from around the world and then repackage and label it as a product of the United States.
“The problem is we need a government intervention,” Bullard told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”
“You could have a 12-year old cow in Mexico or Canada brought into the United States, slaughtered in the U.S. packing plant and all of the resulting beef would be product of the USA,” he continued.
Bullard is the CEO of R-Calf USA, a trade organization that represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers across the country. He joined “Rising” to advocate for the restoration of country of origin labeling requirements, which require retailers to identify the country of origin of certain foods like beef.
Bullard argues that the lack of country origin labels is “absolutely deceptive” to U.S. consumers.
“We’re importing beef from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada and consumers don’t know it,” he told Hill.TV.
The advocate noted that other countries might not have the same health and safety standards as the U.S., arguing some products could be labeled as grass-fed and organic even though that might not be the case.
“Right now, the meat packers are bringing beef up from Uruguay and they are advertising it as organic, natural, grass-fed and with the product of the USA label because it’s been repackaged by a U.S. processor,” Bullard told Hill.TV. “How do we know for sure that down in those countries they’re meeting the criterion necessary for organic?"
He said the first step to addressing this issue is educating producers and Congress that the Made in USA label does not necessarily mean that the meat in question was sourced in the U.S.
Bullard added that he believes promoting awareness among producers and consumers about where their meat is sourced will encourage more support for American farmers and ranchers. He said this in turn will help them better compete in the marketplace.
“When you do that, by raising the competitive bar for everybody, we will see new entrance into the markets,” he told Hill.TV.
— Tess Bonn