Petition Calls for Expanded Consumer Access to Locally Produced Meat in Washington

Author(s): 
Chrys Ostrander

Painting of Local Rancher Selling to a CustomerAs of the morning of Aug. 11, 2020, 1111 people have signed a petition to make buying meat directly from local producers easier. Thank you all!

This morning I notified Gov. Inslee and JT Austin, the Governor's Senior Policy Advisor on Natural Resources of our petition and I have sent the following press release to 50 Washington news outlets.

Now it is time for you to take action. There are three things you can do:

1) Urge your friends and colleagues to sign the petition!
https://www.change.org/WA-local-meat-now

2) Write the Governor and tell him you are in favor of what our petition is asking for, namely, that he sign our proposed executive order to allow any Washingtonian to purchase any amount of meat directly from a local producer instead of requiring the purchase of a large quantity of meat.

Contact the Governor using his on-line contact form, by mail or phone call.

On-line form: https://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/send-gov-inslee-e-message

Write
Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Call
360-902-4111

Send an email directly to JT Austin, his Senior Advisor on Natural Resources issues:
jt.austin@gov.wa.gov
or call him at:
360.902.0638

3) Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Press Release:

For immediate release:

Contact: Chrys Ostrander
7034C Hwy 291
Tumtum, WA 99034
farmrchrys@gmail.com
914-246-0309 (voice, voicemail, text)

Petition Calls for Expanded Consumer Access to Locally Produced Meat in Washington

Over 1000 On-line Petitioners Urge Governor Jay Inslee to Sign Executive Order Liberalizing Direct Meat Sales to Consumers by Washington Ranchers

(Tumtum, WA Aug. 11, 2020) Over 1000 Wasingtonians have signed an on-line petition urging Gov. Jay Inslee to sign an executive order stating that "the acquisition of meat from animals by an informed end consumer shall not constitute the sale of meat products in contravention of Chapter 15.130 RCW, Chapter 16-19 WAC and Chapter 16.49 RCW and shall not be prohibited" if certain conditions are met.

The proposed executive order is modeled after a recently-passed Wyoming "animal share/herd share" law that allows Wyoming consumers to buy any amount of meat from a local livestock producer instead of having to buy a quarter, half or whole animal. The order would have the state of Washington reinterpret existing USDA meat processing rules that exempt the owners of livestock from needing to have livestock slaughtered and processed in USDA-inspected facilities.

"This would be good for the rancher who would be able to sell direct without first having to transport the animals to a USDA-inspected processing facility. Such transport often takes hours in each direction which is expensive for the producer and stressful for the animals," says petition organizer Chrys Ostrander. Ostrander is a retired farmer and food system activist from eastern Washington. He is a member of the Spokane Food Policy Council and the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group.

"Smaller-scale livestock producers often have difficulty scheduling appointments at USDA-inspected facilities that favor their larger-scale customers. The new approach would make livestock production more accessible and profitable for smaller-scale producers. It will be good for families who include meat in their diets by allowing them to buy direct, obtain really fresh meat products and support their local food system," Ostrander says.

Under the proposed interpretation, a consumer could, under contract, purchase a share or shares in an animal or herd, or any portion of the animal or herd, from a farmer thereby becoming the owner. Under current Washington state regulations, an end-consumer must purchase at least a quarter of an animal from a farmer to have it processed into cuts at a WSDA-licensed "custom" slaughter facility. Many people do not have the money to purchase such a large quantity of meat and/or they do not have adequate storage space to keep it.

The call for the new interpretation stems from recent meat shortages caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on centralized, industrial meat processing plants. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in the reliability of that system in cases of food system disruption. Ostrander says since it is simply a re-interpretation of who a livestock owner is, Gov. Inslee could issue such an executive order so that the selling of animal shares and herd shares could begin in the state immediately to the benefit of farmers and eaters alike.

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A copy of the proposed executive order is viewable at:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qcnkhp5n8mzs0ge/Proposed%20Executive%20Order%20relating%20to%20livestock%20sales%20-%20Inslee.docx?dl=0

The on-line petition is located at:

https://www.change.org/WA-local-meat-now

Edition: 
August, 2020