H.C.R. 5028 would request the Legislature, the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to communicate and respond to the critical socio-economic plight of small meat processors in Kansas. The resolution urges the Secretaries of both departments to consider the critical impact and ramifications on these plants of implementing federal regulations related to: written sanitation standard operating procedures; sampling and testing; development and implementation of food safety systems; and development of a microbiological sampling program. These considerations should underscore the need for the plants to be able to comply with federal requirements without being forced to close due to the costs associated with implementation. The resolution recognizes the need for communication and cooperation in order to allow state inspected meat products to enter interstate commerce.
H.C.R. 5028 was recommended for introduction by the Joint Committee on Economic Development. The Joint Committee held a meeting on the Kansas Meat Inspection Program on November 4, 1997. At that meeting, members were informed that the cost projections associated with implementation of the preliminary federal regulations (subsequently amended and finalized in July 1996) had resulted in the dissemination of confusing and conflicting information and had raised concern among small meat processors in Kansas about their capacity to comply. Members of the Joint Committee also were told that the Kansas Meat Inspection Program had received a Category III ranking from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, thus warranting remedial intervention. The Secretary of Agriculture outlined the measures taken by the Department to improve the Program's ranking and, in its report to the 1998 Legislature, the Joint Committee commended the Secretary on her plan of action. In the same report, the Joint Committee also recommended that differences between the Department and meat processors be resolved through a mediation process.
The House Committee on Economic Development heard testimony in support of the resolution from the Assistant Director, Public Affairs Division, Kansas Farm Bureau. Representative Dan Thimesch appealed to the Committee not to take action on the resolution until the Legislative Division of Post Audit completes its assessment of the Meat Inspection Program. (Completion is anticipated at the beginning of March.) He explained that conflicting information continues to be imparted on costs associated with implementation of the federal regulations and the audit is expected to address implementation costs. The Secretary of Agriculture responded to questions of Committee members.
The Committee amended the resolution to make the language more direct.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.