Nebraska lawmaker Senator Tyson Larson has spearheaded a bill that would move Nebraska toward a state-run poultry and meat inspection program, once state officials assess its cost and how well it would survive.
According to Larson, Nebraska meat producers have found it difficult in recent years to get their meats inspected and federally approved for sale. Twenty-seven states already run their own inspections, said Larson, and of the six states that border Nebraska, the only one with no program is Colorado. "Nebraska's lack of a state meat inspection agency puts our rural agricultural producers at an extreme disadvantage compared to their counterparts in neighboring states," he said.
While current law allows producers to ship their products out of state with federal approval, the number of federal inspectors available in some parts of the state have dwindled as small packing plants have closed.
An early version of the bill would have created an agency within the Department of Agriculture by Jan. 1, 2013, to inspect meat products for human consumption. The program would require an initial $200,000 from a state commercial feed administration fund and would subsist on inspection fees. Larson introduced a rewritten version to authorize a study that would outline how the program would unfold, what meats would qualify, proposed fees and a layout of the resources needed to keep it running. Lawmakers voted 35-1 to advance the measure through the first of three readings before it goes to Governor Dave Heineman.