This week, U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) 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.
“As a result of COVID-19, meat processing plants across the country have been forced to close or slow operations and as a result we’ve seen a renaissance in small processors,” said Johnson. “Many states, including South Dakota, have inspection standards that are at least equal to what the federal government requires. This bill cuts through red tape and allows producers, processors, and retailers to sell state inspected meat and poultry direct to consumers through online stores across state lines.”
“America’s meat industry has been hit hard by financial challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cuellar. “The bipartisan legislation will open up new markets for meat producers and processors by allowing meat inspected by the State to be sold online and across state lines. As a senior member of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Appropriations, I will continue to fight for the men and women who work every day to keep food on our table during these unprecedented times.”
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.
This bill is supported by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sheep Industry Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, SD Pork Producers Council, and South Dakota Farm Bureau.
“Over the past few months, more Americans looked to e-commerce to purchase essential goods like beef and an already booming online marketplace further evolved to facilitate purchases and meet consumer demands,” said Marty Smith, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “The American beef supply chain must evolve to keep up with the speed of commerce and the demands of modern-day consumers. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association supports the DIRECT Act because it helps make it easier for the American cattle producer to meet the growing demand of the American consumer to purchase safe and delicious U.S. beef.”
“Small, state inspected processors have filled the void for many producers this year when larger plants shut down. The DIRECT Act would allow state inspected plants to sell their product direct to consumers across state lines. This presents a new opportunity for producers to reach consumers directly through online sales,” said Scott VanderWal, Vice President of the American Farm Bureau Federation and President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. “Consumers wishing to directly order a SD steak would be able to do just that.”