Legislation would create more direct-to-consumer options

New bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House to create direct-to-consumer options for beef producers, processors, and small meat markets.

The DIRECT Act of 2020 would amend retail exemptions to allow meat processed under state-inspected facilities to be sold across state lines through e-commerce. 

The food supply chain was disrupted during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic when processing facilities were forced to slow and shut down, creating a shortage of supplies at the grocery store.   Consumers were looking for other resources, including purchasing direct, to meet their protein needs.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Marty Smith says the organization supports the legislation because it makes it easier for American cattle producers to meet the growing demand of consumers to purchase safe and delicious beef. 

Some states currently have programs approved by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service that have “at least equal to” standards, but products can only be sold interstate if approved under the Cooperate Interstate Shipping Program.

The Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act of 2020 was introduced by Representatives Dusty Johnson (R, South Dakota) and Henry Cuellar (D, Texas).

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