Montana wants to loosen its meat processing laws to make it easier for farms and ranches to supply butchered livestock to food banks.
In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said the state wants to allow select meat processors to butcher livestock given to food banks by farms and ranches. It’s a move the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service previously denied.
Federal meatpacking laws are fairly restrictive about one party paying to butcher an animal so that it can be sold or given to someone else. The Montana Department asked FSIS to allow a select group of state-inspected, custom exempt processors butcher livestock supplied to food banks.
Montana has had an exception on the books for a few years concerning wild game. State law will allow a hunter to have a deer or elk butchered so it can be donated to a food bank. Bullock intends to apply the same exception to livestock.
Bullock told Perdue that because of meatpacking plants shuttered by COVID-19, the large, vertically integrated meatpacking industry has made it difficult for ranches to move beef. There would be benefits to a better developed in-state meat processing, he wrote.