NASDA calls for fairness in meat inspection standards
BISMARCK - The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is urging the federal government to adopt standards that apply equally to both federal and state meat inspection programs.
"We support and welcome reasonable measures to ensure state inspection programs operate at the prescribed standards," NASDA members said Friday, in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "However, federal auditors must use established federal inspection standards to determine "equal to" standards of state inspection programs. Standards must be clear and applied equally to both federal and state inspection programs."
The letter, signed by Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, the president of NASDA, was prompted by a resolution introduced by North Dakota Agriculture Commission Roger Johnson at NASDA's recent midwinter meeting in Washington.
Johnson said that NASDA is pleased that the 2008 Farm Bill finally provides for interstate sales and shipping of state-inspected meat and poultry products under Title V of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
"NASDA has called for legislation like this repeatedly for more than 30 years," he said. "Now, many state-inspected companies are anxious to sell their products into markets outside their state borders. USDA needs to move quickly to get the rules in place, but to make sure that the rules are fair."
NASDA represents the commissioners, secretaries and directors of the 50 states and four U.S. territories.