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Bill would OK interstate sales of state-inspected meat, poultry

U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds, R-SD, and Angus King, I-ME, have introduced the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act. The bipartisan bill would allow meat and poultry products sales across state lines if they have been inspected through state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs.

Currently, there are 27 states with inspection programs, certified by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), that meet or exceed federal inspection standards. However, products processed at these FSIS approved state MPI inspected facilities are not currently allowed to be sold across state lines.

“At a time of economic downturn within the ag sector, opening up new markets for South Dakota producers is critically important,” said Rounds.

“Currently in South Dakota, cattle, sheep, swine, and goat products are limited to markets within the state even though they are required to go through inspection at an FSIS-approved state facility. Because the state inspection programs are required to be ‘at least equal to’ or better than the federal inspection standards, products that pass state inspection should be able to be sold across state lines. Our bipartisan, commonsense bill will create new markets for producers and give consumers more choices at the grocery store while continuing to maintain the high quality and safety standards necessary to keep consumers healthy.”

Sen. King also cited the simple logic of the proposed legislation and its potential benefits to his home state.

“Maine farmers and producers who meet or exceed high-quality state inspection standards for their meat and poultry should have the freedom to access new markets in other states,” said King.

“It makes no sense that a local farmer should have to jump through extra federal hoops to compete outside of Maine if they have proven the quality of their product at a federally-approved state facility. This commonsense legislation gives our state’s agricultural sector more flexibility to expand its customer base and bring Maine-made meat and poultry products to people throughout the country.”

Supporters of the bill include a national cattle association, the Farm Bureaus of South Dakota and Maine, the South Dakota Pork Producers, the South Dakota Meat Inspection Program Director, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the South Dakota Stockgrowers, and the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association.

“We’d like to thank Senator Rounds for his commitment to the independent cattleman and processor,” said Kenny Graner, President of the United States Cattlemen’s Association.

“The New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act of 2018 will strengthen local economies by allowing sales across state lines of meat and poultry products inspected under State meat inspection programs. This opens access to new markets that were previously unavailable due to outdated federal regulations.”

The cattle association president said current federal law gives an advantage to imported beef over some of the beef produced in this country.

“Facilities operating under a state meat inspection program have to jump through the same hoops as those regulated under the federal meat inspection program. For South Dakota, this means that the 80 state-inspected establishments will be able to sell South Dakota beef across state lines to nearby Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and others,” Graner said.

“The idea that beef from approved South American countries may be sold across state lines in the United States, while state-inspected products can’t go from South Dakota to North Dakota illustrates the inequities of our current law.”

Sen. John Thune, R-SD, is an original co-sponsor of the proposed legislation. Additional information from Sen. Round’s office on the bill can be found here.

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