New bill proposed to help with backlog at meat packing plants

States are looking for solutions to end the packing plant backlog and one answer could allow meat from state inspected processing plants to be sold across state lines.

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) is urging passage of his new bill, New Markets for State Inspected Meat and Poultry, to help address the challenges facing packing plants during COVID-19.

“We really think that in this time where people want to know where their food comes from, we can help push this bill through and give the state inspected meat plants the relief that they need, so they can do business as the see fit,” James Halverson with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association said. “It might be a small solution and a lot of those plants are pretty full but any solution is going to help relieve pressure in the long run.”

Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota State Veterinarian, notes that the state will ensure meat is safe for consumers and that their inspection standards are just as good as federal standards.

The bill is currently being considered in the Senate Ag Committee. In a letter to leadership, Sen. Rounds stated that the loss in processing capacity is causing a total reduction of 507 million pounds of beef and 667,000 cattle stuck in a processing backlog.