Opening Meat Markets
Congressional members continue push to allow meat sales across state lines.
Last week Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney joined Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Carol Miller (R-WV) in support of H.R. 7162, the Expanding Markets for State-Inspected Meat Processors Act of 2020, which would allow state-inspected meat to be sold across state lines. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced a similar bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate.
Cheney said: “Wyoming’s livestock producers play an essential role in powering our state’s economy and providing high-quality food for American families. However, the economic slow-down caused by the spread of coronavirus has resulted in processing interruptions and decreases in the amount of meat getting to market, leading to shortages across the country. Allowing state-inspected meats to be sold across state lines empowers Wyoming’s producers to access new markets while supplying the increasing demand. This legislation will increase competition and offer more meat choices for American families.”
This week a half dozen United States senators joined in a bipartisan letter asking U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider areas for regulatory and programmatic reform in the meat processing industry.
The letter stated: "Four beef processing companies control 80% of the market and they use high-capacity processing facilities to perform their work. This oligopolistic market structure has exhibited its weakness during COVID-19. When high-capacity processing facilities experienced outbreaks amongst employees, operations were forced to shut-offor slow down production, leaving the rancher with livestock they could not moveand the consumer with either empty grocery shelves or overpriced products.
"These pitfalls can be avoided in the future if we take action today to promote a diversified food supply chain. Regulations must be streamlined to remove barriers impeding small and medium-sized meat processors."
The letter was led by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and also signed by Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Barrasso (R-WY.), Doug Jones (D-AK.), Mike Enzi (R-WY.), John Hoeven (R-ND.), and Steve Daines (R-MT).