Farmer groups are asking federal regulators to tighten the criteria for meat to be labeled a “Product of U.S.A.”

Currently, meat only has to be processed in the United States to qualify for the label.

That means cattle can be raised and even slaughtered abroad and still get the USA label. That’s a “slap in the face” to U.S. farmers, Michael Kovach, a beef farmer and vice president of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, said in a public comment to USDA.

The Organization for Competitive Markets and American Grassfed Association are suggesting the criterion be changed to “significant ingredients having a bearing on consumer preference such as meat” being of domestic origin.

The North American Meat Institute says that the current rule reflects legislators’ intent and that the proposed language is ambiguous.

Made-in-America messaging has a degree of cachet with U.S. consumers, and some ag groups previously backed a country-of-origin labeling law that could have given their products a leg up against imports.

The U.S. scrapped that law in 2015 after Canada and Mexico won a challenge at the World Trade Organization.

Phil Gruber is the news editor at Lancaster Farming. He can be reached at (717) 721-4427 or pgruber.eph@lnpnews.com. Follow him @PhilLancFarming on Twitter.