I try to buy American made products when I can - one, because I know they're probably better quality and two, because I like to support fellow American workers. If I buy something with the infamous Made in China sticker, I typically expect to know exactly what I'm getting into in terms of quality or lack of when I make that purchase.
So what if cheap items made in China didn't have to have that sticker?
What if you THOUGHT you were buying an American made product, but you actually weren't?
THIS IS ACTUALLY A THING - RIGHT NOW. But instead of a cheap set of shelves for your office, it is the MEAT YOU BUY AT THE STORE.
Originally, County of Origin Labeling was a requirement signed into American law under Title X of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 1638a as Notice of country of origin. This law had required retailers to provide country-of-origin labeling for fresh beef, pork, and lamb.
In 2015, Congress repealed the County of Origin Labeling law - also known as the COOL law - on your beef and pork products. Foreign beef producers and the big meat packers lobbied hard for the repeal, and unfortunately our legislators folded and failed the AMERICAN RANCHER.
As you read this, you may be thinking "Well I'm not a rancher, it doesn't hurt me. I'll just check for the Made in the USA label before I buy."
How do you know it's actually FROM the USA - even if the label says it is?
A huge portion of our beef is coming from New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Japan - to name a few. Not as much as you'd think in the grocery store is coming straight from the American rancher like it used to. And if you shop at Whole Foods, it's an even higher percentage that is imported.
The beef you buy at the store can absolutely be labeled 'Product of the USA' as long as it was PACKAGED here. Not born, raised, and slaughtered here. You could be buying beef with a Product of the USA label that was born, raised, and slaughtered basically anywhere in the world. It just has to be re-wrapped here in fresh packaging here in the US and it can be labeled Product of the USA.
Yes, you read that right. You can pick up a Product of the USA labeled cut of meat at the grocery store and there is a high chance that it was born, raised, and slaughtered overseas. The carcasses are then shipped to a US plant, repackaged, and a Product of the USA sticker is slapped on it before it his the grocery store shelf and then your cart.
So what can you do?
The most important thing is support your American Ranchers.
If you can buy from local producers, do it. It's just like shopping local to support small businesses.
On the big scale to support ALL American Ranchers, even the big ones who are not selling direct to customer, ask your elected officials to mandate all meat is labeled with its actual country of origin.
YOU have the right to know EXACTLY where your food comes from. Now if you don't mind eating foreign meat, that is perfectly ok! Go for it! But just like my Made in China stickers on my cheap furniture - I want to KNOW it was actually made IN China. I don't want Walmart relabeling it Made in the USA because they put it in a new box when it got here. :)
The meat packing industry has been HARD on the American Rancher at ALL levels and sizes of operations. The meat packers control the markets and the prices. They LIKE buying cheap foreign beef and leaving those of us trying to raise good American beef out in the cold. We continue to watch the numbers on our end for what the sell the cattle for drop, while the price YOU pay at the grocery store for that same beef goes UP.
Demand accountability. Demand to know honestly where your beef ACTUALLY came from. Support fellow hard working Americans.
Support the American Rancher before it's too late.