[HELENA, Mont.] – Today, MSGA testified in opposition of HB 336: Interstate cooperative meatpacking compact. While we appreciate the intent of this bill and, as an Association, we continue to look at avenues that would expand opportunities for Montana ranching families, we have many concerns about the legality of this bill.
In a previous post, we shared that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) sent a letter to Montana’s Department of Livestock regarding HB 336. In the letter, FSIS stated that “enactment of this legislation would violate Federal law and jeopardize the “at least equal to” status of the Montana meat and poultry inspection (MPI) program.”
Further, enactment of this legislation would create a patchwork of regulatory bodies for interstate trade in meat and poultry products that may undermine both the effective regulation of interstate commerce and the public health protections provided for by the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act.
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.
Again, the intent of this bill is something MSGA would typically support, but the consequences of the bill would have a huge negative impact our Montana livestock industry. Instead, we would like to share our support of bills such as the;
The DIRECT Act: Which amends the Federal Meat Inspection Act to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell “retail quantities” of beef that have been state inspected facilities across state lines as long as the transaction has been done over E-commerce. Retail quantities must equal less than 300 lbs
New Markets for State-Intersected Meat & Poultry Act: Which 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
Find out more about Meat Processing in Montana on the newest episode of The Ranchers’ Voice Podcast! This week we talk to Montana meat processor and rancher, Jake Feddes about HB 336, Federal legislation on meat processing, and the challenges and opportunities of processing meat in Montana.