MEAT BILLS ARE ON THE MENU IN CONGRESS
Reason magazine|November 2020
AMERICA’S MEAT SUPPLY has been hammered by COVID-19 outbreaks at many of the nation’s largest meat processing plants, and consumer meat prices have spiked as a result.
BAYLEN LINNEKIN

The nation’s small and mid-sized farms and ranches could help address these issues if ranchers and farmers had better access to small-scale slaughtering and processing facilities and to local and regional markets. But to get those things, they first need Congress to get off its rump and vote.

Three very different meat processing reform bills are now before Congress. One is great. One is good. And one is suspect. Just what does each bill propose to do?

THE NEW MARKETS for state-inspected Meat and Poultry Act—the good bill— would foster regional food systems by lifting a senseless ban on the interstate sale of state-inspected meat. Under current federal law, meat produced and inspected by authorities in 20 states cannot be sold elsewhere solely because those states use their own inspectors, rather than U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees, to enforce food-safety regulations. That approach makes so little sense that even the USDA has said it embraces the aims of the bill.

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