the federal government to restrict individual speech. On the other hand, states and the federal government have a greater ability to restrict commercial speech that is false, deceptive, or misleading. If the commercial speech is not false or misleading, then the government may only restrict the speech if it serves a substantial government interest, and the restriction is narrowly tailored to serve that interest. The free speech challenge makes the reasons behind passing legislation important. States should not advocate for barring new technology from entering the marketplace. Personally, I am quite amazed at the technology that is going into food innovation in the 21st century. However, many new companies are mixing in false statements, misleading labeling, and anti-animal agriculture rhetoric to push their products. Because of these tactics, protecting the consumer is especially important. The consumer confusion on fake meat is supported by surveys done by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) showing that nearly one-third of consumers think the Impossible Burger and Beyond Beef contain meat and over half believe the products contain some form of animal products. Because of these potential constitutional issues, crafting the
legislation for states is certainly hard, but not impossible. In Kansas, the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) is advancing legislation to protect consumers from the misleading labeling of fake meat products by requiring a conspicuous disclaimer that the product does not contain meat. Focusing on a disclaimer rather than an outright prohibition of certain terms should combat both the preemption and first amendment challenges. At the federal level, NCBA and KLA worked closely together to craft language introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate with bipartisan support. The Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act of 2019 was introduced by Dr. Roger Marshall in the House and Senator Deb Fischer in the Senate. The Real MEAT Act will be no easy lift, but NCBA and KLA will continue to drive support for it. The bill would codify the definition of beef for labeling purposes, require fake meats to be labeled as “imitation” products, protect consumers from deceptive marketing practices, and ensure that USDA has authority to enforce fake meat labels if the FDA fails to act. As this topic progresses, cattlemen should advocate for legislation that is meaningful and aims to protect the unsuspecting consumer. •
Tucker A. Stewart Associate Counsel Kansas Livestock Association Tucker A. Stewart is associate counsel at the Kansas Livestock Association where he uses his cattleman’s background and legal education to assist KLA members with legal questions and advocate for the livestock industry at the state Capitol. Born and raised in Kansas, Stewart is the son of Gregg Stewart and grew up on the nationally known Mid Continent Farms, which was inducted into The Showtimes’ Hall of Fame in 2016. Being directly involved with farming and ranching gives him a unique producer perspective in the practice of law.
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