During the Board of Livestock Meeting on February 18, there was a lengthy debate regarding the proposed HB 336. The bill would allow any state that enters into the compact the “ability to provide commerce between states for state-inspected meat.”
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) has sent a letter to the Department of Livestock regarding HB 336, in which the letter states that if HB 336 were to pass, the state inspection service in Montana would no longer meet the “equal or better” regulation required by FSIS. This ruling would prevent Montana State Meat Inspections to be allowed and all federal funding for meat inspections within Montana would no longer be available. It would also make it mandatory for all meat processing facilities within Montana – including custom-exempt facilities – to have a federal inspector on sight to handle inspections.
While the idea of giving state-inspected facilities the ability to more easily sell product across state lines, HB 336 will have consequences that will devastate the meat processing industry in Montana. The Board of Livestock ultimately decided it would not support HB 336 unless the bill is amended to have a federal approval contingency.
HB 336 will receive its first hearing in the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 23.
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