Nebraska Sen. Tom Brewer files resolution for state meat inspection program study |

Nebraska Sen. Tom Brewer files resolution for state meat inspection program study

by Carrie Stadheim
for Tri-State Livestock News
Sen. Tom Brewer is planning to introduce legislation to create a state meat inspection program in the next legislative session.
Photo courtesy Nebraska legislature

A Nebraska state senator on July 24 introduced a resolution to request a study that will determine the costs and benefits of a state meat inspection program.

Sen. Tom Brewer, a Republican from Gordon, who represents much of western Nebraska, is seeking an interim study that will look into re-starting the state’s meat inspection program that ceased to exist about 50 years ago.

According to Brewer’s aide, Tony Baker, the current legislative session will end Aug. 13, and the next one will start in early January. In the meantime, interim studies such as the one he’s seeking, are intended to provide information for topics of interest. Studies can also help signal to the legislative body that the leading senator plans to pursue a particular topic.

Baker said Brewer is hoping the study will determine the potential costs and benefits of a state meat inspection program. Currently, only U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected meat processors can sell meat across state lines in most states.

Seven states have achieved deals called Cooperative Interstate Shipment or CIS agreements with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to allow qualifying plants within those states to market their products nationwide and even internationally. Essentially, the approved plants in CIS states have the same marketing capabilities as USDA inspected plants. Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Maine are the states with these agreements.

A Nebraska rancher, Karina Jones said the topic has been “milling around for years” and with the COVID-19 pandemic that caused severe interruptions to the processing framework, the state is even more aware of the need for this.

“Even here in the beef state, we had empty shelves during the pandemic,” she said. “Legislators are now taking a keen eye on this subject, they see that getting state inspection would help stabilize our beef chain here in Nebraska.”

“If someone calls me looking for 10 pounds of hamburger, I can’t legally sell that out of my freezer from my local processor.”

Baker said the idea is to improve the financial situation for many Nebraska residents. “More than anything this is economic development for small town and rural Nebraska. It should be easy to sell beef in the beef state.”

The concept is not expected to increase state bureaucracy or require a significant number of new employees, said Baker. One option they are considering for inspectors is to certify veterinarians in good standing to provide inspection services.

The governor of Oregon recently signed legislation to re-instate that state’s meat inspection program. Ranchers, processors and other concerned parties are working together in that state to work out details on a workable and economically feasible program. ❖

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice as a vice presidential candidate, has said she is not a protectionist and believes in trade.But she has also said she would not have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement due to environmental concerns, and opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations from which President Donald Trump withdrew, according to media reports.At a primary debate in September 2019 when she was campaigning for president, Harris said, “I am not a protectionist Democrat. Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas. That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen.”Harris has also been critical of Trump’s trade policies, calling increased tariffs a tax on the American people.Responding to a Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, Harris said,Trump’s “trade war is crushing American farmers, killing American jobs, and punishing American consumers.”“I would work with our allies in Europe and Asia to confront China on its troubling trade practices, not perpetuate Trump’s failing tariff war that is being paid for by hard‐working Americans,” she said.Harris’s rural platform also said that she would take executive action to re-establish the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as an independent office at the Agriculture Department and “appoint an Agriculture secretary who will prioritize enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act.”Re-establishing GIPSA has been a goal of groups that are critical of U.S. beef imports.Note: Links to Harris’s presidential campaign website have been redirected to the Biden campaign site, but the text of her “Partnership With Rural America” policy page may still be read through a web cache, at an analysis of Harris’s trade statements, Simon Lester of the Cato Institute wrote this week, “Where does all of that leave us? She does not seem to be an economic nationalist or isolationist, and she makes clear that she believes the United States should engage with the world economically.”“At the same time, though, the terms of that engagement are a bit uncertain. What exactly would she want to see in a trade agreement before she would sign on to it? She clearly wants more labor and environment provisions in trade agreements, although USMCA had quite a lot and she still voted against it, arguing that climate change should be covered as well.“Maybe the answer is simply that she wants to change the scope of trade agreements, so that they still promote trade liberalization, but at the same time continue their expansion towards general global governance of non‐trade issues. Vice presidents sometimes take on specific issue areas in which to play an active role. If Biden wins and Harris as VP has trade in her portfolio, we will find out more.”


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