The Honorable Richard G. Lugar
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1401
Dear Senator Lugar:
On behalf of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), I urge you to take prompt action on legislation (S.1988) introduced by Senators Daschle and Hatch to remove the unfair ban on interstate shipment of meat and poultry products from state-inspected plants.
As you well know, we have long sought to lift this unfair prohibition on interstate shipment of state-inspected meat and poultry. We compliment the Administration for finally acting to draft a piece of legislation which, while not perfect, will work. We thank Senators Hatch and Daschle, and their colleagues, for agreeing to sponsor it in the United States Senate.
There simply is no longer any valid reason to continue this ban. Now is the time to act. The reasons to pass it are clear, simple, and compelling:
small meat processors in the United States are competitively disadvantaged by this law, which permits foreign-produced meat and poultry products to have unrestricted access to the US marketplace, while hard-working small business owners in this country are denied the same opportunity. How can anyone justify this?
consolidation in the meat packing industry continues leaving smaller farmers and ranchers with fewer and fewer buyers for their livestock and poultry, further pressuring their financial situation already stressed by low commodity prices. Allowing more competition into the system by permitting the small meat processors to sell their products in a national marketplace will help farmers have more options to sell their livestock at a better price.
HACCP is now fully implemented down to the "very small plant" level. Every meat processing plant in this country - whether state or federally inspected - now must be operating under a HACCP system. If there ever were valid reasons to justify the ban on interstate meat sales from state-inspected plants because of differences in the inspection requirements with the federal system, those reasons have now evaporated. Between other regulatory reforms already implemented by FSIS over the past three years, and HACCP, there simply are no meaningful distinctions between federal and state inspection requirements which justify perpetuating this ban.
We urge the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to take prompt action on S.1988.
We are aware that some groups have raised concerns about this legislation. We stand ready to work with the Committee, USDA, and other stakeholders to resolve any valid issues and produce a bill that will create a level economic playing field for all processors. Thank you for your consideration.
Fred L. Dailey
Director, Ohio Department of Agriculture
President of NASDA