WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Angus King (I-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, urging them to pass the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 response efforts.

This bill would allow meat and poultry products inspected by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) approved state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines.

State-inspected meat and poultry facilities are required by FSIS to be at least equal to federally inspected processing facilities. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 27 states currently operate MPI programs. Products inspected by state MPI programs are already sold for public consumption, however, they are restricted for sale within the state of inspection.

In the letter, the Senators wrote, “As of Friday, May 2, 2020, beef processing was down 26 percent and beef production was down 24 percent over the past four weeks compared to the same time period in 2019. This loss in processing has resulted in a reduction of 507 million pounds of beef and created a backlog of 667,000 cattle waiting to be processed. The pork and poultry industries are facing similar backlogs resulting in protein shortages nationwide.”

“This bill will play a critical role in ensuring that our farmers and ranchers can continue to supply meat to Montana’s processors and America’s consumers continue to see meat at the grocery store,” Daines said. “I will continue to fight to ensure our food supply chain is protected and that Montanans and all Americans have access to food during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

Montana Senator Jon Tester called this the first piece of his ‘Rancher Relief Plan’ to help provide certainty to Montana’s small and medium sized cow-calf operators. His plan will also include initiatives to ensure fair prices at the farm gate from large packers and a push for mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.

The full letter can be found here.

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Office of South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds

Office of Montana Senator Steve Daines

Office of Montana Senator Jon Tester

Northern Ag Network

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