October 13, 2006
October 13, 2006 - Congressional support for interstate meat sales legislation is growing yet assistance is still needed. There are currently 14 sponsors in the Senate and 19 sponsors in the House of Representatives in support of the legislation to create more market opportunities for farmers and ranchers by allowing interstate sales of state-inspected meat and poultry products.
A law from the 1960s prohibits the sale of state-inspected products (sheep, goat, beef, poultry and pork) across state lines, even though these products must meet or exceed federal inspection standards. Meat and poultry products from 34 foreign countries can be freely shipped and sold anywhere in the United States, as long as that country's inspection program is equivalent to federal standards-essentially the same standards that state meat-inspection programs must meet.
No other food commodities inspected by state authorities are prohibited from being shipped across state lines. Other state-inspected food products, including perishable items such as milk, dairy products, fruit, vegetables, fish and shellfish, are marketed freely across the country.
Oddly enough, the current ban on interstate sales does not apply to 'non-amenable' meats such as venison, pheasant, quail, rabbit and others.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) have introduced legislation in Congress to remedy this situation. Their bipartisan legislation (S. 3519 and H.R. 6130) would allow state-inspected meat and poultry products to be sold across state lines.
Increased markets will not only benefit producers and processors, but it also gives consumers more choices at the supermarket. To assist this effort, growers are being asked to contact their delegations to support this legislation. There may be an opportunity to advance these bills when Congress returns for a lame session after the elections.
The American Sheep Industry Association is one of 41 agricultural organizations urging the passage of this legislation. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33