Do you prefer buying beef from the grocery store or butcher that’s been raised with care? Earlier this week the USDA withdrew the labeling standards for grass-fed and naturally-raised beef. That means that unless a distributor volunteers to stick its own grass-fed or naturally-raised labels onto a product, then you’ll remain in the dark as to how your beef was raised.
The decision comes on the heels of another change from Congress, which would remove all country of origin labels from beef.
Although official grass-fed labels have been in the works for four years, part of the farming community was at odds with the USDA, stating that the standards were nearly impossible to uniformly regulate, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
However, much of the agricultural community was rooting for easier, clearer labeling standards that just became muddled.
“Meat labeling just became even more confusing for farmers and consumers,” Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition told the politically active rural news blog, In These Times. “The USDA is revoking a label standard that had widespread farm and consumer support. Actions such as this take us into a Wild West situation, where anything goes and both farmers and consumers lose.”
According to the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, which represents over a thousand beef producers, the new measure will make it infinitely easier to shy away from integrity and transparency.