(WASHINGTON D.C.)– One U.S. Senator is leading the charge to remove lab grown meat in schools in favor of the real thing.
In a sit down interview late last week with Agriculture of America (AOA) host Jesse Allen, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) shared his reasoning behind new bipartisan legislation that would ban lab grown meat being served in schools. The School Lunch Integrity Act, introduced with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), would ban cell-cultivated meat from being provided through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).
“There aren’t any standards around lab grown meat right now,” says Senator Tester. “And quite honestly, so this is, this is trying to get ahead of the curve on this because I think our kids need to get the highest quality nutrition. And you know what? We raise the best quality of beef in the world. And that’s not brag, that’s fact. Our kids ought to be eating that, they shouldn’t be eating something that’s developed in a lab. And so, we dropped this in as a common sense piece of legislation, that’s going to make sure our kids can serve real meat that our ranchers grow and not some fake substitute that’s made in a lab.”
This legislation has been endorsed by all the major cattle groups in the United States including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF USA, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Tester adds that this is simply commonsense legislation to protect our kids.
“This lab grown stuff, we don’t know. And quite honestly, we’re talking about kids here,” says Senator Tester. “And if kids can’t get good nutrition in school, then we ought to just ensure that that happens. And that’s what Rounds and I are doing with this bill. Fake meat is something that I wouldn’t want my kids eating and I wouldn’t want your kids eating and so we’re going to get ahead of it and if they come up with standards on it and people want to eat this stuff, then, once the standards are there we can have that debate, but right now there’s not even any standards and so this bill gets ahead of that problem.
Senator Tester also discussed his recently introduced legislation from December with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) that would ban beef imports to the U.S. from Paraguay, a country with a long history of foot and mouth disease. He explains why banning these imports is important.
“This makes so little sense that every major cattle group in America is on the same page. That doesn’t happen very often,” says Senator Tester. “And the reason they’re on the same page is because of foot and mouth disease, because people understand that we raise the best beef, and this Paraguyan beef may not meet the same standards. USDA has relied on outdated, incomplete data to make this decision. And so what Rounds and I have done, once again my friend Mike Rounds from South Dakota, we are in process of doing a Congressional Review Act, what that will do is overturn this decision by the Biden administration, because quite honestly, I think it’s a bad decision.”
During the interview, Senator Tester also shared the latest he has heard in terms of ongoing Farm Bill negotiations on Capitol Hill.
“So right now I can tell you that the ag committee in the Senate is working hard on getting things through,” says Senator Tester. “There’s some debate around where the reference price needs to be and how we’re going to pay for that. Look, my perspective, things have changed since 2018. Input costs are higher and significantly higher. It costs more to raise a bushel of wheat than it did in 2018. That reference price needs to reflect that and hopefully the ag committee can can come together and bump that stuff up so it’s reflective of 2024 challenges. And keep in mind, this Farm Bill is not only for 2024, it’s for the next five years. We need something that’s going to work, work as good as the 2018 Farm Bill did, because I think it worked pretty darn good. And if we’re able to get that done, and I think there’s a bipartisan effort to do exactly that, then hopefully we’ll have a bill we can vote on in short order, get it passed and get it to the President’s desk.”
You can listen to the full conversation with Senator Tester from Tuesday’s episode of Agriculture of America with Jesse Allen below: