Missouri wants 'fake' meat clearly labeled

Under legislation passed by Missouri lawmakers this session, the Show-Me State will be the first to require clear labeling of lab-grown or plant-based meat substitutes to designate that these products did not originate from livestock.

The bill, given the green light by the Missouri House on April 26 and the Senate on May 17, prohibits “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” This means manufacturers would not be able to market those products as “meat” if selling them in Missouri.

The measure is backed by Missouri Farm Bureau and the state’s cattle, pork, poultry, corn and soybean associations. Missouri Cattlemen’s Association member Andy McCorkill testified during the House legislative hearing, saying the bill “ensures the integrity of the meat supply” in Missouri.

“Calling [plant-based products] meat without knowing the inspection process, the nutrient profile of these products, food safety or anything is a disservice to farmers, ranchers and consumers,” McCorkill said. “It is important these products don’t misrepresent our industry. We care for our livestock and invest a lot of time and money in ensuring the consumer has a safe, nutritious and affordable product.”

U.S. sales of plant-based substitutes for animal food products rose by 8.1 percent between 2016 and 2017. According to the Plant Based Food Association, 36 percent of consumers purchase plant-based meat substitutes. Among millennials, that figure jumps to 60 percent. These products go by names such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.

Opponents argued that creating a Missouri-specific prohibition would create an untenable situation where products sold in the state must be labeled differently from products sold in all 49 other states.

At press time, the bill was on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk to be signed.

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Farmer are 'first casualties' in trade war with China

Threatened tariffs from China could take a huge toll on U.S. agriculture by cutting soybean exports by as much as 40 percent. The impact would be severely felt in MFA territory, where Missouri, Iowa and Kansas are among the top 10 soybean-exporting states.

On April 2, the Trump administration announced a second round of tariff increases on goods imported from China, a move meant to address the country’s illegal trade practices. The next day, China proposed tariffs against some of the most important U.S. exports, including soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat, sorghum and beef. Pork exported from the U.S. to China was already covered by recently announced Chinese tariffs.

“It is hard to remember a more potentially calamitous week for U.S. agriculture,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said after the announcement. “If fully implemented, these actions spell trouble for Missouri agriculture producers.”

On April 12, Hurst and the presidents of the Missouri’s Cattlemen’s, Soybean, Pork and Corn Growers associations issued a joint statement urging elected leaders to “negotiate a solution that addresses the issue of intellectual property theft while protecting Missouri’s No. 1 industry from devastating retaliation.”

China is by far the leading destination for U.S. soybeans, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. soybean exports. A recent Purdue University study estimates that tariffs similar to those proposed by China would cause up to $3.3 billion in annual economic losses for soybeans alone. That figure doesn’t include lost sales of pork, corn, cotton and beef.

“There are no winners in a trade war, only casualties,” said Wesley Spurlock, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association. “As trade tensions continue to mount with China, the expanded list of tariffs on food and agriculture exports are making America’s farmers the first casualties.”

For beef producers, the tariffs could unravel the industry’s recent progress in growing sales to China. Following a 13-year absence, the U.S. regained access to the Chinese market last June. U.S. beef already faces a 12 percent tariff in China. The new measures would raise the tariff to 37 percent, putting the U.S. even further behind competitors with a free-trade agreement.

Trump’s proposed tariffs will take effect in June. A public comment period will last until May 11, and a hearing is set for May 15. China is not expected to take formal action unless the U.S. moves forward with implementing its tariffs.

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Academy Awards

Thirty high school sophomores were recently selected to participate in the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Missouri Agribusiness Academy (MAbA). The students will spend the first week of June in the St. Louis region exploring various facets of agriculture.

“We are proud to announce another outstanding MAbA class,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “Our young people in agriculture set the bar high and model respect, determination, responsibility and service—values we in the industry strive to instill.”

Students will visit businesses and learn about career opportunities in animal and plant health, communications, forestry, value-added agriculture and more. The students will end their week with a graduation ceremony at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Since 1988, the MAbA has awarded more than 900 academy memberships through a competitive application and interview process for high school sophomores interested in pursuing agriculture-related degrees and careers. To be eligible, students must come from a farming family or be active in FFA or 4-H.

Students selected for the 2018 Agribusiness Academy are:

  • Hailey Schepers, California, Mo.
  • Ellie Coppock, Eldon, Mo.
  • Kaylee Lower, Collins, Mo.
  • Miles Bailey, Clinton, Mo.
  • Justin Austin, Appleton City, Mo.
  • Parker Triplett, Rutledge, Mo.
  • Katie Campbell, Memphis, Mo.
  • Clint Bailey, Curryville, Mo.
  • Lucy Schnitker, Middletown, Mo.
  • Linsey Brady, Fayette, Mo.
  • Sally Schmidt, Carrollton, Mo.
  • Anderson Rogers, Bethany, Mo.
  • Brooklyn Bennett, Bolckow, Mo.
  • Garrett Heil, Norborne, Mo.
  • Maryanna Milazzo, Galt, Mo.
  • Hannah Hoelscher, Warrenton, Mo.
  • Paul Boeckmann, Loose Creek, Mo.
  • Madison Coleman, Rhineland, Mo. 
  • William Lee, Truxton, Mo.
  • Nicole Deeken, Loose Creek, Mo.
  • Ricanna Spargo, Naylor, Mo.
  • Katelyn Young, Arcadia, Mo.
  • Aaron Brown, Jackson, Mo. 
  • Elizabeth Mooney, Fredericktown, Mo.
  • Brittany Ladd, Farmington, Mo.
  • Kaitlyn Cloud, Carthage, Mo.
  • Cade Shepherd, Mount Vernon, Mo.
  • Lauren Gilbert, Oldfield, Mo.
  • Jacob Toombs, Bolivar, Mo.
  • Lauren Ford, Stockton, Mo.
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