Meridian, Miss. A Mississippi lawmaker is on a media blitz of sorts voicing his growing concerns about a measure that has been approved by the USDA. It allows chickens that are slaughtered in the U.S. to be processed in China, and then shipped back to the U.S. without labeling which identifies the products.
Tom Miles represents House District 75 in the Mississippi Legislature. That district covers all of Scott County, which happens to top the list of counties for poultry production in Mississippi.
"It's our major source for income, whether you work at the poultry plant or are a farmer or not; we're all tied to it one way or the other," says Rep. Miles.
Smith, Leake, Simpson, Jones, Neshoba and Wayne Counties are also big producers for Mississippi's poultry industry. Representative Miles is concerned that without labeling requirements for chickens that are processed overseas, this $2.5 billion dollar industry in Mississippi could be compromised.
"Our major concern is that we feel that this could lead to more outsourcing and the loss of more jobs in the future," says Miles. "That could be devastating to our farmers because they're already doing their own farming overseas and with the processing we feel that we could lose jobs to overseas as well."
Representative Miles is also expressing concerns about regulations for processing chicken in China being different from those in the U.S. He's says efforts are currently being made to craft a Truth in Labeling Bill.
"We believe that if we can get this measure passed on the state level in Mississippi that other states will follow suit was well."
That bill is expected to be presented to Mississippi lawmakers for consideration next year.
According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, poultry production in Mississippi is concentrated in the central part of the state. Last year in Mississippi the industry produced an agricultural income of $2.53 billion.