From foodandfarm.org:

Will Congress Vote to Support Small Scale Meat Processors?

Background:

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) agency provides approximately $43 million dollars annually to support the 28 state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) Programs currently operating. State Meat and Poultry Inspection Programs are an integral part of the nation’s food safety system. FSIS provides up to 50% of the state’s MPI operating funds, as well as training and other assistance. About 2,100 meat and poultry establishments are inspected under state MPI programs. All of these establishments are small or very small. State MPI programs are characterized as providing more personalized guidance to establishments in developing their food safety operations.

State MPI programs operate under a cooperative agreement with FSIS. Under the agreement, a state’s program must enforce requirements “at least equal to” those imposed under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Establishments have the option to apply for federal or state inspection. However, product produced under state inspection is limited to intrastate commerce.

Here is the latest news:

NEW INTERSTATE BILL INTRODUCED. On June 27, Rep. Zach Space (OH) introduced H.R. 2876 which would allow interstate sales of state-inspected meat and poultry. H.R. 2876 takes a different approach than other bills to allow interstate meat sales. Specifically, the bill would require USDA to verify that state inspection programs are equal to the federal inspection program. If USDA determines that an individual state plant does not meet the “equal to” federal inspection requirements, then that state plant would not be eligible to ship meat and poultry in interstate commerce.

2007 FARM BILL EXPECTED TO INCLUDE INTERSTATE. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to include provisions in the 2007 Farm Bill legislation that would allow interstate meat sales. The Committee plans to consider the Farm Bill the week of July 17.

CONTINUE GRASSROOTS EFFORTS. Many lawmakers will be in their home states and districts during the congressional recess next week (July 2-8)—this is a great time to let them know the importance of interstate meat sales legislation.

Please take a few minutes to call, fax or write your House Representatives–especially if they serve on the House Agriculture Committee–they need to hear from us! Ask them to support and cosponsor interstate meat sales legislation—and to include it in the Farm Bill.

The list of House Agriculture Committee members is in the first article of this newsletter.

– – – P E T I T I O N – – –

Support Legislation For Local Economic Growth, Fair Markets, Small Business and Consumers

Support Interstate Meat Sales Legislation
H.R. 1760 (Kind); H.R. 2315 (Pomeroy) and H.R. 2876 (Space)

An outdated and unfair law from the 1960s prohibits the sale of state inspected meat products (beef, poultry, pork, lamb and goat) across state lines. There are 2,000 state-inspected meat processors–mostly small, family-owned businesses–who are prevented from competing in the national marketplace. Legislation has been introduced in the House—H.R. 1760 by Rep. Ron Kind (WI),H.R. 2315 by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (ND) and Roy Blunt (MO), and H.R. 2876 by Rep. Zach Space (OH). All of the bills would allow state-inspected meat and poultry to be sold nationwide.

We urge Congress to take action now because:

Meat and poultry products from 34 foreign countries can be freely shipped and sold anywhere in the U.S.—but our domestic small businesses and processors cannot. Why are small businesses in the U.S. denied the same opportunities given to companies in foreign countries?

Our locally produced, state-inspected meats are some of the best specialty products in the country. It doesn’t make sense to say consumers in Iowa can enjoy these products while consumers across the state border in Missouri cannot eat and enjoy the same products.

No other state-inspected food commodities are prohibited from being shipped across state lines. Other state-inspected food products (milk, dairy, fruit, vegetables, fish) are freely marketed across the country. Why aren’t the same marketing options available for meat and poultry?

The restriction on interstate meat sales does not apply to products such as venison, pheasant, quail, rabbit and others. It doesn’t make sense to allow these products across state lines while beef, pork, lamb and goat cannot be shipped interstate. Where’s the logic in this?

Interstate meat sales legislation will provide economic fairness and open markets. Increased markets will not only benefit producers, processors and small businesses, but it also gives consumers more choices at the supermarket. It’s just common sense and it’s the right thing to do!

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