Truth in Labeling Campaign

Food labels are a critical component of our food economy.

Often the only form of communication between farmers and consumers, labels affect a farmer’s ability to earn a fair price for their products. Americans increasingly prefer to buy from nearby farmers using sustainable practices, so transparent labels also support the growth of resilient local and regional food systems. 

We believe that labels should say where food comes from and be honest about how it was produced.

And yet all too often, global corporations like Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods use misleading labels and claims to sell generic or imported products at a premium while our government looks the other way.

To combat this deception, we are taking two prongs of attack: implementing clear country of origin labeling policies and fighting corporate deception directly.

Current policy allows imported beef to be labeled “Product of USA” if it was simply “repackaged or otherwise processed” in the United States. Farm Action is working to change this — and you can too!


Join us in telling the USDA to end fraudulent “Product of U.S.A.” labeling to support American farmers and ranchers. By submitting a comment to the USDA, you’re protecting consumer rights and speaking up for America’s farmers and ranchers who are getting cheated out of market opportunities by multinational corporations that are skirting the law.


“Buying American” is an increasingly important value to U.S. consumers, and truthful country of origin labels provide grocery shoppers with enough information to support American farmers. Farm Action has long pursued the goal of clear country of origin labeling, which can be achieved through action by Congress, USDA, and FTC.

  • Authority: Congress
  • What it is: This law is the gold standard for origin labeling, as it requires meat and meat products to disclose the country where the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered. 
  • Status: Currently MCOOL covers lamb, chicken and other food commodities — but in 2015, Congress directed the Obama administration’s USDA to roll back this law for beef and pork, allowing these products to be sold with no country on the label. 
  • Next steps: The American Beef Labeling Act would expand MCOOL to include beef, ultimately raising the integrity of food labeling and allow consumers to trust that the products they’re purchasing reflect their personal values.
  • Authority: USDA
  • What it is: Imported beef can be labeled “Product of USA” provided it was simply “repackaged or otherwise processed” in the United States.
  • History: While at a previous organization, Farm Action’s co-founders filed a USDA petition calling for reforms to our fraudulent labeling system, which prompted the USDA to open a public comment period and begin considering the issue. In February of 2022, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) referenced that original petition as it announced it would finally begin the review.
  • Status: In March of 2023, USDA announced a proposed rule limiting the use of the voluntary “Product of U.S.A.” label exclusively to meat, poultry, and egg products derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in the United States.
  • Next Steps: Farm Action submitted comments in support of this rule, and will continue working with the agency to ensure more opportunities for American farmers and ranchers.


The Farm Action team takes this issue seriously: when we see corporations using fraudulent practices, we take strategic action to hold them accountable. We are fighting for the fair rules and level playing field that will give independent farmers and ranchers a chance to thrive.

Antibiotics Found in Whole Foods’ “No Antibiotics, Ever” Meat

Retail conglomerates know that consumers are willing to pay more for meat labeled “Organic” or “Antibiotic Free,” and have been caught using deceptive labels to get that extra profit.

When an investigation revealed antibiotics in cattle and meat from a USDA-approved no-antibiotics labeling program sold by Whole Foods, we sent a letter to USDA demanding an investigation of the entire Whole Foods supply chain, including the retail stores, slaughter plants, and feedlots that claimed to produce antibiotic-free meat.

When corporations lie, people can get sick, cheaters profit, and farmers working hard to comply with the rules lose money and market opportunities.

Farm Action continues working diligently with our network of farmers to expose the harms of deceptive labeling, and will hold corporations and the USDA accountable.

Mike Callicrate, a Colorado rancher and rural advocate, spoke about what this kind of labeling deception does to farmers in a video and guest blog post produced jointly with the organization Farm Forward.

Smithfield’s Deceptive Sustainability Claims

While Smithfield Foods relies on marketing terms like “sustainable” and “highest environmental standards,” its products actually come from extremely unsustainable, industrialized production and processing facilities with long and ongoing records of environmental degradation.

This ongoing deception tricks consumers, stealing market opportunities from farmers who are actually implementing sustainable and environmentally-sound practices. 

Farm Action and a coalition of national and regional research, policy, and advocacy organizations filed a complaint with the FTC arguing that Smithfield routinely makes false and misleading claims about the sustainability of its pork products and the company’s environmental record. 



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