Another one of Indiana Farm Bureau’s priorities for the 2021 legislative session is to increase the amount of meat inspectors around the state. The lack of enough inspectors was a problem in 2020 for smaller meat processors that had to pick up the slack when larger processors got shut down due to COVID. Many processors could have processed more if more meat inspectors were available.
Will there be money for more meat inspectors in this year’s tight budget?
“Well, we certainly will be advocating for it,” says Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch. “We’ve heard from our ag stakeholders time and time again, year after year, how we can grow that industry if we had more inspectors. So, it will be something that we will be advocating for. We’re going to be creative in how we look at our finances and how we can try to provide more with less. So, certainly, it is a priority for the Department of Ag.”
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says there’s no doubt that the Board of Animal Health has seen a decrease in the number of inspectors over time due to lack of funding.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re learning the lessons from what happened during COVID. These smaller facilities have picked up a lot of slack and a lot of them want to make sure that they are inspected; that’s a way to be able to grow their business as well is to have that inspection capability. So, yes, we’re going to find ways to be able to see if we can be creative in looking for the funds to be able to get that pulled off.”
The Indiana House and Senate reconvene for the legislative session Monday.