Proposed bill would grant more power to New Mexico Livestock Board
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There’s a new plan to get more New Mexico-grown beef on your dinner plate.
It’s no secret that New Mexico is home to a lot of cattle. We’re talking an estimated 1.3 million statewide, and while you’ll find most of those cows on dairy farms, roughly 30% are being raised for beef production.
But those cattle don’t often stay in New Mexico because there just aren’t many USDA certified meat processing facilities here. So those cattle have to be sent out of state.
Now, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is hoping to change that with this bill with the Meat Inspection Act. It would grant the New Mexico Livestock Board the power to conduct inspections and issue certifications on the same level as the USDA.
The bill’s sponsors say it will allow more New Mexico cattle to be processed right here in New Mexico. Therefore, making it easier to buy and eat New Mexico-grown cattle in New Mexico.
“We have processors waiting, waiting to be USDA certified so that they can process meat, fill our senior centers with New Mexico meat, our schools with New Mexico meat, and tables in New Mexico with New Mexico meat,” said state Rep. Gail Armstrong.
Armstrong says the USDA is backing the initiative, and added the feds provided a list of everything they needed to include in the bill.
On top of keeping New Mexico beef in New Mexico, Armstrong and other supporters say this could also bring new jobs to New Mexico.
“We’re opening up a market really for grass fed beef in New Mexico for New Mexicans,” said Tom Patterson, president-elect of New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. “And it may also encourage new processing plants to come in to New Mexico, which means that we’re going to have employment from that.”
The bill unanimously cleared its first House committee Tuesday morning, but the bill’s sponsor suspects they could face hurdles as it moves to the House Judiciary Committee.
It’s worth noting there are similar proposals in the Senate to establish a meat inspection program, but it appears lawmakers are tweaking those bills.