MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock sent a letter U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allow some local processing in order to avoid food waste and get local meat to Montana food banks for Montanans hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19.
The USDA recently denied a request by the Montana Department of Livestock to consider modified protocols that would allow selected processors to process some local demand from Montana producers and farmers, instead of continuing to require that product be processed at facilities that are increasingly reaching capacity.
“I believe the request by our state meat inspection authorities is a reasonable step that should be approved,” Governor Bullock wrote in the letter. “Our proposed protocols would enforce the intent of our food safety regulations and ensure that food is not wasted at a time when many Montanans need access to food during this crisis.”
Allowing custom processing under USDA modified guidance would cut down on food waste and allow Montana-produced food to go to local food banks, getting local meat and food to families hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19.
Governor Bullock also asked the USDA to encourage new ideas to reduce barriers for Montana meat processing capacity and improve markets for rural producers in Montana over the long term.