Interstate meat shipment bill gains momentum

The legislation would allow state-inspected meat with federal inspection equivalency to be sold across state lines.


By: Michelle Rook, Agweek (ND)

Jun 29th 2020


WASHINGTON — A measure designed to allow state-inspected meat with federal inspection equivalency to be sold across state lines is gaining momentum in Congress.


U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., recently re-introduced the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, which could pave the way for Congressional approval.


“There are 27 separate states that have equivalency or equal-to-federal inspection built into their plans, and yet they can’t sell across state lines,” Rounds says.


His bill would open up new markets to sell state-inspected products — already sold commercially — nationwide.


Rounds says South Dakota meat companies can sell product to consumers across the state, but because of federal law, they cannot sell across the border in Iowa.


“That’s just wrong,” he adds.


Plus, Rounds says allowing interstate sales would allow state-inspected companies to be more competitive with larger packers and would give them more ability to expand.


“If they expand, they offer more competition for producers and, just as importantly, a very high-quality meat product for consumers,” he says.


The nation’s meat processing industry has been crippled by workforce shortages tied to COVID-19 illnesses. The situation also has forced many consumers to source meat in outlets other than grocery stores. Many consumers are buying meat locally from smaller meat processors or purchasing live animals from livestock producers and turning to local locker plants and smaller meat processing facilities to process those animals. Rounds says this trend is also providing some leverage for passing this type of legislation.


Rounds says his bill would help ensure national food security and address some of the recent national meat shortages.


“I think right now people are starting to recognize that food security is critical. While our major meat processing facilities continue working to get up and running at full capacity, allowing state meat and poultry inspection programs to sell their meat across state lines will help address our current production crisis,” he says.


The act would also ensure...