USCA Sends Letter to Biden Administration on Buy American Mandate
With the existence of the current loophole that allows for imported beef to claim the "Product of the U.S.A." label, it is virtually impossible to provide assurance that the federal Buy American program will in any way benefit U.S. cattle producers. In its letter, USCA recommended changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations that would realign how USDA procures meat products for domestic food assistance programs.
In October 2019, USCA submitted a proposed rulemaking to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requesting the needed changes to permanently close this loophole. In March 2020, USDA FSIS advanced USCA's recommendations - though, under their proposal, live cattle from Canada and Mexico would still be eligible to receive the "Product of the U.S.A" label, a definition which USCA adamantly opposes.
Regarding the Buy American mandate, USCA President Brooke Miller issued the following statement:
"USCA sincerely appreciates the vision of President Biden in his Executive Order to reset how the federal government uses its purchasing power to proactively invest in American businesses.
"The ongoing global pandemic has highlighted the need for a safe, stable, and secure food supply. U.S. cattle producers are more than willing to step up and support those goals by providing wholesome and nutritious American beef. We now ask that Congress and the Administration support us by providing a pathway forward for defining what constitutes a U.S. beef product. For far too long, there has been confusion at the retail counter when it comes to tracing the origin of meat products. If we are going to build and maintain a successful and vibrant U.S. cattle industry – we must have a transparent and informed labeling process at the meat counter.
"USCA also appreciates Senator John Thune of South Dakota for raising this issue during a recent confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack. USCA urges full Senate support for Mr. Vilsack's nomination. Once confirmed, we look forward to working with the incoming Secretary on solidifying these definitions and permanently closing this labeling loophole."