From What Country Are You Buying Your Beef?

Posted by Will Harris
May 23, 2018 9:00:00 AM
Product of the USA Made in America or imported grass-fed beef

To the HSUS Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee,

Reminder - "US" in HSUS stands for “United States.”

I am in hopes that this situation does not become a partisan issue (although everything else is). But, I want to call your attention to an injustice that is occurring on a daily basis. It involves imported meat, but the correction is not a protectionist policy, or tariffs, or import quotas.

I am focused on changing a special-interest policy that intentionally deceives American consumers - under today's USDA rule, a multinational meat company can:

  • Purchase the cheapest meat from any country in the world (that has equivalency).
  • Bring it to the U.S.A.
  • Unload the container and ship it to food service or grocery distribution centers.
  • Label it “Product of the U.S.A.”

Drone footage of cattle egrets flying over the cow calf herd on mill pond pasture

“An Intentionally Deceptive Rule”

This is wrong and it should be changed. It is an intentionally deceptive rule. I am not in favor of denying access to foreign meats, nor putting punitive tariffs on them. But, the American consumers who choose to buy American products to support American farmers should not be intentionally misled.

I was among the earliest of the American cattle producers who embraced the grassfed protocol. I have seen steady increases for demand of this product for the last 25 years. In the last few months, I have seen most of the necessary-for-production margin premiums eroded by imported grassfed beef. I suspect that 75% [+] of the grassfed beef consumed in America comes from Australia, New Zealand, or Uruguay.

I harbor no resentment towards the cattlemen in these countries, nor towards any consumer who chooses to buy this product. I am upset that large multinational meat companies can deceive consumers who wish to support the grassfed farming systems in this country.

grass-fed cattle graze next to the entrance of our processing plant

Grassfed Beef in the U.S. Becoming Financially Untenable

This enormous erosion of margins in grassfed beef, over the past year, has caused me to cease evangelizing for protocol conversion. For many years I have recommended farm transformation from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, gmo's, artificial hormones, prophylactic antibiotics, and tillage-based operations to regenerative, humane, grassfed production. I have recently ceased to make this recommendation because it has become potentially financially untenable for the folks that ask me.

bulls early April pasture raised grass-fed beef

How You Can Help Bring Back Country Of Origin Labeling

One organization of American cattle producers is mounting a campaign to stop this atrocity:

I hope that you all will educate yourselves a bit regarding this situation.

Thank you for listening to me.

Best regards,
Will Harris
White Oak Pastures
Bluffton, Georgia

Bulls roaming pasture at sunset with drool in the wind and flies

Bulls and sheep graze in a multispecies grass-fed herd

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