In a time when so many politicians are pointing their fingers at the press and alleging “fake news,” U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer recognizes there are other fish to fry, and so she’s declared war on fake meat. This week, the U.S. senator from the heart of cattle country introduced the Real MEAT Act, an effort to expose artificial, vegetable-based products for what they are: a hoax.

We agree with Fischer.

Americans ought to be able to buy whatever products they desire, but the labels on food products should accurately describe what’s inside.

We also believe the competition for food dollars ought to be fair and factual. It’s not fair when purveyors of fake meat label their products as if they once had four legs. Only beef is beef, and only pork is pork. Vegetable protein is not beef, even if its manufacturers claim it tastes and looks authentic.

Fischer’s legislation would give consumers the transparency they need to make educated purchases by banning labeling that suggests artificial products are some kind of newfangled meat.

The senator is correct, and it’s time for livestock producers to take a stand before they lose the branding war like America’s dairies. We in farm country know there’s only one real milk, but some consumers have been fooled by fake milk, like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk and other variations that have one thing in common: They call themselves milk, but they are not. To make matters worse for dairy farmers, these phony products have even won a place on the shelves in the dairy case.

Fischer must succeed in preventing fake meat from staking out its niche in the meat department.

Nebraskans know something about branding. It was our state that trademarked itself as the “Beef State.” Embossing our license plates with that title told the world what our state is all about. Georgia can have its peaches, Washington can keep its apples. Nebraska’s image as the Beef State has served us well. People around the globe know that Nebraska produces the Cadillac of carne.

Rather than fooling consumers into believing fake meat is the same as real meat, the makers of plant-based products ought to be honest. They’re not selling real meat, they’re selling authentic vegetables made to look and taste like meat.

If the label has the word “beef,” then what’s inside the package had better be the real thing.