The mystery Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood created briefly Tuesday by withdrawing her bill to limit the use of the term “meat” on product labels in the state was short-lived.
On Wednesday she introduced an alternative to her original measure. The new proposal, Legislative Bill (LB) 594, seeks to amend Nebraska’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It replaced Blood’s withdrawn LB 14.
Pyramid schemes and chain referral sales are among illegal activities covered by the state’s existing Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Reporting and enforcement is carried out by county attorneys and the Nebraska Attorney General. The proposed change would add language covering meat labeling.
“Meat means any edible portion of any livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof and does not include insect-based, plant-based or lab-grown food products,” according to Blood’s amending language.
“For purposes of this subdivision, (a) livestock includes cattle, calves, sheep, swine, ratite birds, including, but not limited to, ostrich and emu, llamas, alpaca, bison, elk, goats, horses, and rabbits raised in confinement for human consumption and (b) poultry includes any domesticated bird, including, but not limited to, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese raised in confinement for human consumption. . .”
The 10-page bill, if approved, would amend the Deceptive Trade Act to include a Section 23 that says anyone who “advertises, promotes, labels, represents illustrates, displays for sale, offers for sale, attempts to sale, or sells an insect-based, a plant-based, or lab-grown food product as meat” is in violation Nebraska’s trade policies.
Blood’s legislative aide, Oliver VanDervoort, told the trade publication Meatingplace that by expanding the Deceptive Trade Act, legislators would not have to “reinvent the wheel” to impose the labeling restrictions. Further, the Act’s reporting and enforcement mechanisms are already in place and would apply to the new section.
The Nebraska Unicameral has assigned LB 594 to the Agriculture Committee. Thursday, three of Blood’s colleagues in the nonpartisan, single-chamber legislature signed on to cosponsor the new bill. They include Sen Tom Brandt, Sen. Tom Briese, and Sen. Matt Williams.
The Nebraska Unicameral is the second state legislature to express interest in preventing meat substitutes from being labeled as meat. Missouri became the first state to prohibit labeling meat alternatives as meat. It’s law passed this past legislative season. The state is now defending the law in federal court.
Farmers and some legislators in Missouri and Nebraska, and possibly other meat producing states, say they want to protect the traditional animal agriculture industry at a time when promising protein alternatives are writing their marketing plans.