Senate passes Ericksen bill allowing farmers to sell meat locally

 

  • Allows meat and poultry to be sold by the cut through state-inspected facilities.
  • Eliminates cumbersome barriers for small livestock producers.
  • New avenue for consumer sales, could be expanded.

OLYMPIA – A measure giving consumers and farmers new opportunities to buy and sell locally grown meat and poultry was approved Wednesday by the Washington Senate and moves on to the state House.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, sponsor of Senate Bill 6382, said the bill would allow farmers to sell meat through local processing plants inspected by the state Department of Agriculture. Consumers would be allowed to purchase by the cut.

“It’s good for farmers, and it’s good for people who want to buy their meat locally,” Ericksen said. “And it’s great for those of us who don’t have freezers big enough for an entire cow.”

Federal rules require all meat sold by the cut, in restaurants and retail and wholesale outlets, to be processed at facilities inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But these large facilities generally do their buying by the herd, and the number of USDA-inspected outlets is declining. No USDA-inspected slaughterhouses remain in Whatcom County, home to Ericksen’s 42nd Legislative District.

Smaller facilities can do custom cutting, utilizing state inspectors. But customers must present their own animals for processing, and the meat cannot be resold. By allowing sales by-the-cut from the state’s nearly 200 small slaughterers, Ericksen said local farm production will be given a boost. The bill also directs the state Department of Agriculture to study opportunities for an expanded state meat-inspection program.