Johnson, Cuellar introduce bill to allow e-commerce sale of state-inspected meat
Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, on Thursday introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act of 2021, which would allow retail quantities of meat processed under state-inspection to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, providing beef producers and local processors alike with more options to market direct-to-consumers, Johnson said in a news release.
“Today, a few large players have too much control over our meat supply chains. In many states, state meat inspection is every bit as good as federal meat inspection,” said Johnson, a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
“The DIRECT Act would unlock the entrepreneurship of state-inspected processors without compromising food safety.”
“Our nation’s meat industry has been devastated by the economic fallout resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Cuellar in the joint release.
“The bipartisan legislation will allow meat inspected by the state to be sold online and across state lines, opening up new markets for meat producers and processors.”
“As a senior member of the agriculture subcommittee on appropriations, I will continue to provide the necessary support to the meat industry so they are able to make it through this crisis and continue to be an integral part of feeding American families. I want to thank Congressman Dusty Johnson for his leadership on this critical issue.”
The DIRECT Act would:
▪ Amend the retail exemption under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 lbs. of beef, 100 lbs. of pork, 27.5 lbs. of lamb) of state inspected meat online to consumers across state lines.
▪ Allow new direct-to-consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets.
▪ Maintain traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall.
▪ Allow retail sales to consumers, minimizing the risk for further processing in export, keeping equivalency agreements with trading partners intact.
▪ Allow states operating under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping system to ship and label as they are currently.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an urgent need for our industry to expand opportunities for state-inspected meatpackers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Policy Division Chair and South Dakota rancher Todd Wilkinson.
“NCBA acted quickly last year, advocating to allow more beef to be safely sold online across state lines. The DIRECT Act will allow cattle producers and smaller beef processors to more easily evolve to meet the growing demand for e-commerce sales.”
“Thank you to representatives Johnson and Cuellar for recognizing the shifts in an ever-changing market and introducing this critical legislation,” Wilkinson said.
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