Agriculture commissioner works to combat local meat shortages

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Agriculture commissioner works to combat local meat shortages
A steak cut from West Virginia-raised cattle awaits the oven. (Photo courtesy Charlie Solorzano)

West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt is calling for the passage of the "New Markets for State Inspected Meat and Poultry Act" to combat local meat shortages.

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Passage of such legislation would allow for meats processed in state-inspected facilities to cross state lines, said Leonhardt, who sent a letter recommending its passage to West Virginia’s congressional delegation as well as Secretary Sonny Perdue of the .

“Recent supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the importance of small, state-inspected facilities," Leonhardt said.

To secure our nation’s food supply, it’s time to allow interstate sales of state-inspected meat products to consumers nationwide.”

Twenty-seven states, including West Virginia, operate Meat & Poultry Inspection programs, through which products must meet “at-least-equal-to-FSIS” standards to be available for public consumption.

Without approval from the USDA, products processed in state-inspected facilities are restricted for sale within the state of inspection. Processors across a state border cannot receive the product.

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“This arbitrary regulation restricts the sale of these products to within state lines and should be abolished to increase local production nationwide," Leonhardt said.

"Small producers and consumers, as well as small processors, would benefit from passage of the New Markets for State Inspected Meat and Poultry Act.

“As we rehash emergency response plans and work towards our nation’s economic recovery, regional agriculture development will play a crucial component.”

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