Tester Champions Montana’s Ranchers, Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Ban Schools from Serving Lab-Grown Meat 

Senator’s bill would prohibit cell-cultivated meat from school breakfasts and lunches

As part of his continued work going to bat for Montana ranchers and kids, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced the School Lunch Integrity Act, a bipartisan bill with Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to ban cell-cultivated meat from being provided through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets nutritional requirements for the meals that are able to be served to students through the NSLP and SBP, but has not issued any guidance on the use of cell-cultivated protein in those programs. Tester’s bipartisan bill would fix the lack of standards by banning cell-cultivated meat from the programs.

“Montana ranchers grow the best meat in the world, that’s a fact – and our students ought to be getting the best in their school breakfasts and lunches every day,” said Tester. “This commonsense bill will make sure our schools can serve real meat from our ranchers, not a fake substitute that’s grown in a lab.”  

“Our students should not be test subjects for cell-cultivated ‘meat’ experiments,” said Senator Rounds. “South Dakota farmers and ranchers work hard to produce high quality beef products. These products are often sold to South Dakota schools, where they provide necessary nutrition to our students. With high quality, local beef readily available for our students, there’s no reason to be serving fake, lab-grown meat products in the cafeteria. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that benefits South Dakota producers and protects students from the unknown effects of cell-cultivated ‘meat’ products.”

This legislation is endorsed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF USA, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“The federal government should not allow lab grown protein in school lunch and breakfast programs without knowing the long-term health effects on children,” said Ethan Lane, Vice President of Government Affairs at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “The lack of nutrition and allergen research related to lab grown proteins creates unnecessary risks for children, while traditional beef provides essential nutrients that provide health benefits to children. School cafeterias are not test labs, and we appreciate Senator Rounds and Senator Tester for standing up for our children and our cattle producers.”

As the Senate’s only working farmer, Tester has led the charge to support Montana ranchers and increase competition for American family farms and ranches. Last year, Tester introduced bipartisan legislation to ban Paraguayan beef imports and suspend Brazilian beef imports until experts can conduct a systemic review of the commodity’s impact on food safety and animal health. Tester has repeatedly pressed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on suspending Brazilian beef imports to the U.S. and addressing consolidation in the ag industry, citing that JBS – one of the four big packers controlling more than 80% of the beef industry – is based in Brazil. 

Tester has also introduced his bipartisan Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act to increase market transparency by establishing minimums for negotiated sales and requiring clear reporting of marketing contracts, and his Meatpacking Special Investigator Act to combat anticompetitive practices in the meat processing industry by appointing a USDA special investigator with subpoena power to enforce the nation’s anti-trust laws. And last January, Tester introduced his bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act to reinstate mandatory country of original labeling (MCOOL) for beef.


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