Sen. Marshall Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Support Livestock Producers
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Sen. Marshall introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would give livestock and poultry producers greater access to consumers nation-wide. Right now, meat and poultry cannot be sold across state lines unless it was processed at a USDA inspected facility. The Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transaction Act (DIRECT) creates a narrow exemption to allow small producers and butchers more flexibility for interstate sales without compromising food safety nor jeopardizing international trade market access.
“During the pandemic, we saw first-hand the resiliency challenges of our food sector – millions of people stopped going to restaurants and started looking to cattle producers to source their beef directly from the farm. Unfortunately, the number of USDA-inspected facilities needed to meet consumer demand was lacking,” Senator Marshall said. “The DIRECT Act creates a small and simple exemption to allow state-inspected butchers to sell meat and poultry online directly to a household consumer. If Kansans can buy meat directly from my butcher, my butcher should be able to sell their meat to consumers out-of-state as well.”
“Our small farms face profound challenges every day. The DIRECT Act will help small meat and poultry producers find new markets and keep their businesses thriving,” said Senator Welch. “I’m glad to partner with Sen. Marshall on this bipartisan legislation.”
“American consumers are buying beef in new ways, whether it is directly from local farms and ranches or online through e-commerce,” said NCBA President-Elect Mark Eisele, a Wyoming cattle producer. “The DIRECT Act allows smaller processors to sell beef in different and innovative ways, supporting cattle producers while also ensuring the safety of our product. NCBA is proud to support the DIRECT Act and we thank Sens. Marshall and Welch for their efforts to strengthen the cattle and beef industry.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for improvements to America’s robust food supply chain. We appreciate Senators Marshall and Welch for their work on the DIRECT Act, which will provide America’s families with more options in where they buy their meat while creating new opportunities for farmers and ranchers to reach new customers,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“KLA applauds Sen. Marshall’s and Sen. Welch’s support of livestock producers with introduction of the DIRECT Act,” said KLA Chief Executive Officer Matt Teagarden. “Kansas producers have an opportunity to market their high-quality beef directly to consumers, but many lack access to federally inspected meat plants. The DIRECT Act would offer new direct-to-consumer options for producers by allowing interstate sales of state inspected meat, while keeping protections in place to remain in compliance with current trade agreements.”
“Like many states, Kansas has a strong meat inspection program with standards at least equal to federal requirements. The DIRECT Act would recognize this by allowing state-inspected processors to sell their products directly to consumers across state lines. This bill will open up new opportunities for producers and offer new variety to consumers all while ensuring food safety remains the first priority,” said Joe Newland, Kansas Farm Bureau President
“Our members support every effort to create new markets for pork products while supporting local businesses,” said Tim Stroda, President-CEO of the Kansas Pork Association. “We appreciate Sen. Marshall’s and Sen. Welch’s support of our industry’s efforts to create additional choices for consumers that happen to live across state lines.”
• Many states, like Vermont and Kansas, have State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs approved of “at least equal to” standards set under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).
o These programs are overseen through audits by USDA – Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure there are not food safety concerns.
o State inspection is often less expensive and preferable to very small processors.
o MPI programs require food safety plans (HACCP) and, similar to federally inspected processors, have inspectors on-site.
• The DIRECT Act would amend the retail exemption under the FMIA and PPIA 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 MPI State Inspected Meat online to consumers across state lines.
• The DIRECT Act will allow new direct to consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets.
• Because DIRECT Act sales are in e-commerce, sales are traceable and could easily be recalled.
• The DIRECT Act allows retail sales to consumers, minimizing the risk for further processing in export, keeping our equivalency agreements with trading partners intact.
• The DIRECT Act will allow states operating under the CIS system to ship and label as they are currently.
• The DIRECT Act explicitly prohibits the export of MPI product.
• The DIRECT Act does NOT allow custom exempt processers to ship meat in interstate commerce.