PIERRE, S.D. — A bill coming up in Pierre on Tuesday aims to create an “interstate cooperate meatpacking compact” with surrounding states. However, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association says this legislation is not the way to go about beef sales across state lines.
House Bill 1219 would allow South Dakota to enter into a compact with other states that inspect meat within their bounds, and allow the interstate sale of the meat products. Cattlemen’s Association President Eric Jennings says the industry has been working towards interstate meat sales for at least a year. Jennings says the bill is well-intentioned but the wrong way to reach the end goal.
“This bill will create a loss of recognition for our state recognition service of meat inspection by the federal government, so they don’t want us to enter this,” said Jennings. “They’ve said, if we do enter into it, they’ll pull our 50% cost-share funding for our state inspection service. It’s $960,000 dollars that we get from the federals for the inspection service.”
He says states that already have a state-inspection program, like Wyoming and Montana, would be the ones partaking in the compact, but those aren’t the states South Dakota producers are trying to reach.
“For my line of thinking, if we’re trying to get more retail meat out of South Dakota to sell more meat directly to the consumers, we need to focus on the states that have more people than cows, instead of cows than people,” said Jennings.
Jennings says this is a federal issue, adding he supports federal bills introduced by Congressman Dusty Johnson and Senator Mike Rounds.
Rep. Johnson’s DIRECT Act would amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act to allow for interstate internet sales of certain state-inspected meat and poultry. Sen. Rounds reintroduced legislation, known as the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act, in this session that would allow the sale of meat and poultry across state lines.
Jennings plans to testify Tuesday in Pierre before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.