Last week, the USDA announced it would be withdrawing its standard for the grass-fed meat label. The agency is giving producers who used the grass-fed label thirty days to (1) convert the current “grass-fed” standard, in which 99% of the animal’s feed must be from grass or forage, into their own private standard; (2) use some other “recognized grass-fed standard,” or else (3) develop a new, voluntary, grass-fed standard—whatever the company decides is fine with the USDA.
All of this is being implemented through the USDA’s Process Verified Program (PVP). PVP is not an inspection program intended to hold producers accountable to their claims, but rather a marketing program that allows producers to make their own claims about their products and slap a USDA logo on the label.This is the same program that allows Perdue Foods, for example, to market their chicken as being “Humanely Raised,” “Raised Cage Free,” on an “All-Vegetarian Diet,” or with “No Animal By-Products.” The “Humanely Raised” label was such a sham that it drove a Perdue chicken farmer to start a campaign to stop the USDA from putting their stamp of approval on the company’s meat because consumers were, in the farmer’s words, being “hoodwinked.”
We have already seen the dilution of organic standards through industry influence. What if cows that are 50% grass-fed can use some kind of “grass-fed” label? We can only expect larger companies to abuse this system to the detriment of consumers and small farmers.
Write to the USDA and urge them to rethink this move!
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Uphold Strict Grass-fed Meat Standards
Dear [Decision Maker],
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]