The 2024 legislative session is right around the corner and lawmakers are already getting to work on the next state budget.

Missouri Director of Agriculture, Chris Chinn, wants lawmakers to increase funding to hire more meat and poultry inspectors.

“Of course, our salaries, we are not competitive with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspection Services,” said Chinn. “We would hope that someday we would be able to get more competitive in that respect, but as I said, we have been able to keep our staff fully employed in that program.”

She said becoming an inspector is a lengthy process.

“It takes approximately three-to-four months, I believe, to train up an inspector and get them ready to be on their own,” according to Chinn. “We have not had a difficult time in the last year in filling those positions. As you might imagine, people who take those positions are really passionate about the work that they do.”

She stressed the importance of why it’s better to get inspected locally.

“Many people might ask why would you apply for a state inspection over a federal inspection,” Chinn said. “We want to make sure that we are here to serve our businesses so that they always have a choice. Our employees may offer a better understanding of our local establishments in the climate of Missouri than a USDA inspector. We also might be able to provide service more efficiently.”

Under the department’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Program, inspectors work to make sure that meat and poultry products are safe, accurate, and labeled as secure, as required by state and federal inspection laws.

She requested the additional state funding as lawmakers prepare to work on the budget when the legislative session begins in January.

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