Notice of Withdrawal of Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims

January 11, 2016

The Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program’s Quality and Assessment Division (QAD) provides verification services to the meat, poultry, and egg industries. Today, AMS published a notice in the Federal Register to withdraw the United States Standards for Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims. Specifically, AMS is withdrawing the Grass (Forage) Fed Claim for Ruminant Livestock and the Meat Products Derived from Such Livestock (Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard); and the Naturally Raised Claim for Livestock and the Meat and Meat Products Derived From Such Livestock (Naturally Raised Marketing Claim Standard). These changes will be effective January 12, 2016.  A copy of the standard will remain on the website for reference at http://www.ams.usda.gov/services/auditing/grass-fed-SVS.

A conference call will be held for stakeholders as follows:

Date:  Thursday, January 14, 2016
Time:  11am, EST
Conference Number: 888-844-9904
Passcode: 2887241

AMS continually reviews the services it provides.  During the course of this review, AMS has determined that certain services do not fit within the Agency’s statutory authorities.  Applicants often seek to market the USDA-verified marketing claim on a food product label.  To do so for meat products, the company must receive pre-approval from the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which regulates food labels.  Without express authority from Congress, it is not AMS’ role to define standards; that responsibility lies with FSIS.  Because AMS does not have express authority to define grass-fed or naturally raised, it is inappropriate for the agency to offer it as an AMS-defined marketing claim.  Instead, companies can use voluntary USDA-Certified or USDA­Verified programs to verify compliance with standards that they develop.

In addition to the conference call, QAD will individually contact all applicants using the USDA Grass Fed Marketing Claim Standard to ensure their programs are adjusted to the new requirements within the established timeframes.  The USDA’s Grass Fed Small and Very Small Producer Program (SVS) will remain intact with program requirements outlined in the QAD 1020 Procedure.  QAD will issue revised certificates to the SVS producers and update the SVS Official Listings; approval dates will remain the same.  No action is necessary from the SVS producers. QAD will work to ensure USDA Process Verified Program and USDA ISO Guide 65 applicants using the USDA Grass Fed Marketing Claim Standard establish their own grass-fed definition or reference an established grass-fed standard within the established timeframes.  QAD will issue revised certificates and update SVS Official Listings to reflect the changes in their individual programs.

If you have any questions, contact Jennifer Porter, QAD Director, at (202) 690-3147.

Craig A. Morris
Deputy Administrator