Direct Act introduced
U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act during the first week of July. The 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 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,” added 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. I want to thank Congressman Dusty Johnson for his commitment to supporting our meat industry.”
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 pounds of beef, 100 pounds of pork and 27.5 pounds 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 and maintain traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall.
The act will also allow retail sales to consumers, minimizing the risk for further processing in export, keeping equivalency agreements with trading partners intact and allow states operating under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping system to ship and label as they are currently.
“This is a step in the right direction, and it offers American lamb producers throughout the country new markets and methods to add value to their operations,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Benny Cox. “The American sheep industry thanks Reps. Johnson and Cuellar for their efforts to open new marketing avenues for American lamb.”