U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act. This legislation will allow state inspected meat to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, allowing small producers and processors more options to directly market to consumers.
“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. “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 Congressman Cuellar. “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.”
The DIRECT Act will:
- 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.
- Maintains traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall.
- Allows 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.
Agriculture organizations praised the proposed legislation.
Scott VanderWal, Vice President of the American Farm Bureau Federation and President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau said, “The DIRECT Act would cut red tape to allow state inspected retail establishments to sell their product direct to consumers across state lines. This presents a new opportunity for producers to reach consumers directly through online sales. Consumers wishing to directly order a South Dakota steak would be able to do just that.”
“Over the last year the need for our local state inspected plants to have access to customers across state lines has become more evident. Due to Covid-19 many consumers couldn’t get meat for their families because the store shelves were bare and consumers were reaching out looking to buy locally raised and processed. E-commerce sales have been increasing in popularity. These sales offer great opportunity to farmers and local butcher shops to market their products. Many of our local butcher shops have developed specialty products and with our state inspection program being equal to exceeding the federal inspection standards the ability to sell meat across state lines would help promote an increase in sales. Any way we can increase sales, or make our products more readily available to consumers is a win/win situation for farmers, small businesses, and our consumers,” said Shane Odegaard, President, South Dakota Pork Producers Council
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an urgent need for our industry to expand opportunities for state-inspected meatpackers. 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,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Assocation Policy Division Chair and South Dakota rancher Todd Wilkinson.