Colorado looking to make it easier for ranchers to sell meat to consumers |

Colorado looking to make it easier for ranchers to sell meat to consumers

Under bipartisan bill, people could buy a share in the animal and be OK with it being butchered in a facility that the USDA doesn’t inspect

Saja Hindi
Denver Post

Colorado is about to let meat eaters buy steaks and pork chops directly from the producer, without involving an inspection from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’ll cost you upfront in the form of buying a share of the animal before it’s butchered, and you can’t sue the producer if you get sick.

Rural Coloradans have been buying shares of meat from each other for years, but lawmakers want to expand it to the rest of the state — and mandate that producers make it clear to consumers that the meat has not been federally inspected.

Sponsors of the bill, which unanimously passed the House and Senate but needs a final vote after some small changes before it’s sent to Gov. Jared Polis, say it’s a chance to make locally sourced meat more available.

They also said it’s in response to the bottleneck in meat production that happened during the pandemic. Some large meatpacking plants had to shut down or scale back production because of COVID outbreaks, which led to higher prices and less meat on grocery store shelves. And Colorado’s ranchers, who were seeing high levels of interest in their meat, had trouble keeping up with the demand and scheduling butchering in USDA-inspected meat plants.

“When we saw grocery stores that didn’t have food, and we had people wanting to have access to meat and meat products as well as other foods, I started looking into how do I make it easier for a producer to be able to sell their meat directly to a consumer,” said GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, a rancher himself.

Colorado isn’t the first to allow these types of direct sales: Wyoming passed a similar law last year, expanding a 2015 law to include beef. Colorado’s bill is modeled on Wyoming’s and is similar to the Colorado Cottage Foods Act, which allows things like pickled fruits and vegetables to be sold directly to consumers without inspections or licensing.

Mark Gallegos, deputy director of the Inspection and Consumer Services Division at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said the bill is really more of a clarification than a full-bore change to the state’s Custom Meat Act, so it’s clear what the requirements are for buying meat directly from a producer.

To read the rest of the Denver Post article, click here.

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