Most Grass-Fed Beef Labeled ‘Product of U.S.A.’ Is Imported

Foreign meat makes up the bulk of an increasingly sought-after product. Perdue Farms is hoping a new acquisition will revive domestic sales.
May 28, 2019 3:30 PM ET

By Deena Shanker

There are some benefits (beyond better-tasting beef) to letting cattle wander wide swaths of grazing land, said Tim Searchinger, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute who specializes in food sustainability. Acres of feedlots produce tons of manure in small areas, adding to already massive pollution problems that plague the industry. Grazing cattle, meanwhile, spread their manure over greater areas, protecting soil quality and avoiding runoff. However, this production method can have downsides. Searchinger noted that “grass-fed” in places such as South America can involve clearing tropical forests to create pasture, resulting in the decimation of natural carbon sinks.

Even the impact of well-managed grazing systems is up for debate. On one hand, you have operations such as White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, which focus on regenerative agriculture and a range of crops and animals, including grass-fed beef. White Oak is actually removing 3.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for every kilogram of beef it produces, according to a life-cycle analysis by Quantis commissioned by General Mills.

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