DIRECT Act reduces red tape for smaller meat processors

Bipartisan legislation creates new direct-to-consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets.



Jun 30, 2020


U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act. This legislation will allow state-inspected meat to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, providing small producers and processors with more options to market directly to consumers.


Currently, many states such as South Dakota and Texas have state Meat & Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) as “at least equal to” standards set under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Under the existing framework, however, state-inspected products can only be sold interstate if approved to do so under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping (CIS) Program.


The DIRECT Act would amend the retail exemption under FMIA and PPIA to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 lb. of beef, 100 lb. of pork and 27.5 lb. of lamb) of MPI state-inspected meat online to consumers across state lines. Because DIRECT Act sales occur via e-commerce, sales are traceable and could be recalled easily. The proposal also includes clear prohibitions on exports, to keep U.S. equivalency agreements with trading partners intact. The DIRECT Act will allow states operating under the CIS system to ship and label product as they currently do...