“Companies want consumers to believe that products labeled “free-range” or “free-roaming” are derived from animals who spent their short lives outdoors, enjoying sunshine, fresh air, and the company of other animals. Labels—other than “organic”—on egg cartons are not subject to any government regulations, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate “free-range” or “free-roaming” claims for beef products.
The USDA requires that “free-range” animals have access to outdoor areas, but there is no provision for how long they must spend or how much room they must have outside. The Associated Press reported that the USDA’s regulations don’t “require the birds to actually spend time outdoors, only to have access.” Even if a farmer opened the door to a coop with thousands of birds inside and then closed it before any chickens went outside, he would still be able to use the free-range label.”
USDA “free range” definition: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/meat_&_poultry_labeling_terms/#4
Contact the USDA: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Contact_Us/index.asp
Contact Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture: firstname.lastname@example.org