US ranchers want to use the federal government as a proxy to fight high-tech meat companies
The entire American beef industry is worried about Silicon Valley’s cell-cultured meat companies, and most want to take down the tech interlopers. But the industry is divided over how to do it.
The US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) in February asked federal government regulators to adopt a definition for meat that would exclude cell-cultured products (often called “clean meat”). This week, though, the more-powerful National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) asked the same regulatory agency to rule the opposite. Both groups find the new food technology threatening, so it might at first seem head-scratching that they seek opposing results.
It boils down to a game of strategy. On its face, the NCBA’s argument is more contoured than the USCA’s. Right now, the US government has no clear plan for how to regulate clean meat products. Some people in this space say the task would fall to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees dairy, seafood, produce, and packaged foods that included plant-based imitation meat products. Others say the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be a more natural fit because it’s already charged with regulating meat products as they go through slaughterhouses. And still others have argued it should be a combination of the two.