Recognizing a Win

Recognizing a Win

March 2024 vol. 3

I have completely lost faith in our governmental institutions, but It’s important to acknowledge (and celebrate) victories when they happen.

Early last week, Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture, announced a new policy mandating that all meat, poultry, and egg products bearing the “Product of U.S.A.” label must originate from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed within the United States. Gee what a novel concept – who would have thought that we needed the government to require packing companies to state the obvious (sarcasm).
This move comes as a corrective step since the government previously permitted meat to carry the “Product of the U.S.A.” label simply if it was packaged in the U.S., regardless of where the animal was born or slaughtered. Essentially, meat from animals not actually raised in the U.S. could masquerade as a domestic product just because it was wrapped up stateside.

However, it’s important to note that this is a voluntary program, and country-of-origin labeling is not mandatory. This means you might still be in the dark about the origins of your meat, even if it sports a USDA inspection sticker. The key difference—and it’s a significant one—is that when meat IS specifically labeled as “Product of the USA,” consumers can now be assured it truly comes from the U.S. This should, hopefully, alleviate some of the unfair pricing pressures faced by American cattlemen.

The push for clearer labeling stemmed from a USDA survey asking consumers what they thought the “Product of the U.S.A” label meant. Unsurprisingly, most believed it implied exactly what it stated. A subsequent question probed whether people would be willing to pay a bit more for meat explicitly labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.” A majority indicated they would, showcasing a desire to support U.S. farmers. However, due to misleading labels, consumers’ extra spending was likely benefiting foreign-owned meatpackers instead.

Of course, some of you buy exclusively from local farmers like us, so you know exactly where your meat comes from. But if you’re still buying some of your meat from the local grocery, in a few months you can at least trust your eyes when you see it labeled PRODUCT OF THE USA. Unfortunately, this is only an executive action from the USDA – it is not law. What we need is congress to codify the mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL). This will remove any doubt as to where your meat comes from. There are several bills in progress including S.52, H.R. 5081, and H.R. 4979 that will provide this more robust solution.

And while I’m on the topic of villains, you likely saw our hurried announcement Saturday that our Square POS was hacked.  Somehow, the thieving scum were able to access our account and issue several invoices to our dear friends.  We believe we’ve gotten this under control, but not before a lot of damage was done.  I’ve reached out to those individuals affected, but if you see any unauthorized charges from Amber Oaks Ranch, please let us know.  We’re working with Square to resolve the fraudulent charges.  We appreciate your understanding.

To end on a happy note, we have baby calves and lambs dropping every day.  This year’s farm tour is going to have lots of cute critters.  Be sure to get your tickets now, only a handful remain.

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