Wisconsin seeks USDA waiver to move more state-inspected meat to consumers
Wisconsin’s Ag Secretary has asked the USDA for a temporary exemption to help move meat to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter, Randy Romanski asked Food Safety and Inspection Service Acting Regional Director Joseph Priore to allow state-inspected meat to be sold or donated across state lines. Romanski tells Brownfield, “What we’re asking FSIS to do is to waive some of their usual restrictions to allow more of these state-inspected Wisconsin meat products or things that are processed here to move across state lines for both purchase and donation.”
Romanski says an exemption would increase the amount of meat available to consumers and decrease the number of animals euthanized.
Under current rules, Romanski says, “In some cases, that processor would have to identify the laundry list of products that they wish to move, and FSIS would have to come in and identify equal-to status. What we’re saying is state-inspected plants have that equal-to status.” Romanski says his agency has shown the state meat and poultry inspection program is “at least equal” to federal requirements, and that Wisconsin has been a leading state in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program, which is considered the same as the federal inspection program.
The State Secretary says his staff has worked to identify state-inspected main street processors who may be willing to slaughter and process even an extra dozen animals a week to fill the need, and state meat inspectors are ready to provide additional slaughter inspection days.
Romanski says, “In Wisconsin, we want to do everything we can to keep our livestock, including cattle, hogs, and poultry, moving through the food supply chain, rather than being humanely euthanized. In a time when so many families are lacking access to nutrition us, affordable food, we need to do all we can to put meat on consumers’ tables, whether it is purchased at the grocery store or received from a food pantry.”
Randy Romanski discusses his request for a temporary meat exemption.