LINCOLN — Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not use the term “meat” when referring to all lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives.

The request to limit the definition of “beef” and “meat” to only products from live animals born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner comes from a strong movement to develop and commercialize alternative protein products, particularly “clean meat,” also called lab-grown or cultured meat, as well as plant-based proteins.

“The production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our state’s economy,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president, said in a letter to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). “This translates into tens of billions of dollars of economic activity as well as thousands of jobs.”

Nelson said consumers depend upon the USDA FSIS to ensure that the products they purchase at the grocery store match their label descriptions. In the letter, he specifically requested FSIS to:

- Prohibit products derived from alternative sources — e.g., synthetic products from plants, insects, non-animal components and lab-grown animal cells — from being labeled as “beef” or “meat.”

- Limit the definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner.

- Limit the definition of “beef” to products from cattle born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.

- Add the definitions above to FSIS’s Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.

In January 2018, delegates from the American Farm Bureau Federation adopted a policy proposed by delegates from Nebraska which supported the prohibition of the use of “commonly known and industry recognized ‘meat’ terms in the labeling and advertising of all lab-grown and plant-based alternatives.”

“This Nebraska-led effort was originally approved by our voting members, Nebraska farmers and ranchers, at our state annual meeting last December,” Nelson said. “Nebraska’s farmer and rancher bottom lines and the overall agriculture economy is at risk and we urge FSIS to support this petition.”

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