1997 Regular Session

To: Agriculture

By: Representative Holland (By Request)

House Bill 1328



SECTION 1. Section 75-33-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

75-33-3. (1) For the purpose of this article, the words and terms used herein shall have ascribed to them the following meanings:

(a) The word "person" shall include individuals, partnerships, corporations, associations, and any other legal entity recognized by law. This term shall also include the State of Mississippi and any other political subdivision thereof.

(b) The terms "meat" and "meat-food products," whenever used in this article, shall include the carcasses or parts thereof, of cattle, sheep, goats, other ruminants, including exotic animals, swine, horses, mules, rabbits, poultry and ratites and the meat and meat-food products of such animals.

(c) The term "food unfit for human consumption" shall be construed to include the meat and meat-food products of horses and mules and all meats or meat-food products which are so affected with disease that it would be dangerous to use the meat or other parts for human food; also all meats or meat-food products which are contaminated, putrid, unsound, unhealthful, or otherwise unfit for food, or which have been derived from any animal which has died as a result of disease or accident, or which was in a dying condition at the time of slaughter.

(d) The word "establishment" as used in this article, shall include: (i) any building or structure in which slaughtering, butchering, meat processing, meat canning, meat packing, meat manufacturing or rendering is carried on; and (ii) the ground upon which such building or structure is erected, and so much ground adjacent thereto as is used in carrying on the business of such establishment, including drains, gutters, waste disposal and cesspools used in connection with the establishment.

(e) The word "equipment," as used in this article, shall include all machinery, fixtures, containers, vessels, tools, implements and apparatus used in and about an establishment.

(f) The word "commissioner," as used in this article, shall mean the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, or his duly authorized deputies.

(g) The word "ratite," means a member of a group of large flightless birds including the ostrich, rhea and emu.

(h) The words "exotic animal," mean a member of a species of game not indigenous to this state, including axis deer, fallow deer, red deer or other cloven-hooved ruminant animals and ratites.

(2) All persons engaged in business as a meat broker, jobber, dealer, distributor, peddler, transporter, or wholesaler of any carcasses of meat animals or poultry or parts or products thereof, whether fresh, frozen, cured or otherwise and whether canned, wrapped, packaged or prepackaged, but not otherwise handled, whether intended for human food or other purposes, or any person engaged in the business as a public warehouseman storing any such items or products shall register with the commissioner on forms provided and shall operate under the applicable inspection authority provided in this article and by the Mississippi Meat Inspection Act of 1968 [Chapter 35 of Title 75], provided persons operating the aforementioned nonslaughter and nonprocessing businesses are exempt from the license and fee specified in Section 75-33-7.

(3) The slaughtering by any person of animals and poultry of his own raising, and the processing and transportation by him of animals and poultry products exclusively for use by him and members of his household and his nonpaying guests and employees, shall be exempt from the provisions of this article. Any other operations of an unlicensed, unapproved slaughterhouse and/or processing facility to escape the provisions of this article shall be unlawful, and any person found guilty of such violation shall be punished as provided in Section 75-33-37.

(4) The provisions of this article shall not apply to poultry producers with respect to poultry of their own raising on their own farms on the same basis as now provided in the United States Wholesome Poultry Products Act and regulations thereunder, and such exemptions shall be consistent with said act and regulations. However, the adulteration and misbranding provisions of said act, other than the requirement of the inspection legend, shall apply to articles which are exempt from inspection by said act and regulations.

SECTION 2. Section 75-33-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

75-33-33. (1) Any person desiring inspection service over and above the inspection service normally provided by the commissioner for sanitary purposes, and any person desiring a grading service as authorized by this article, shall pay the commissioner for such services. The person requesting such services shall pay the commissioner a sum sufficient to cover the salary or wages of the inspector, or the grader, plus necessary travel and other authorized expenses, and a reasonable sum for administration expenses. All expenses to be paid hereunder shall be that sum agreed upon with the commissioner.

(2) The commissioner is hereby authorized and empowered to recognize and accept any bona fide agreements and arrangements now in existence, or that may hereafter be made, between any person carrying on any business covered by this article and the proper officials of any county and/or municipality wherein local inspection service is to be provided by the county or the municipality as a condition or covenant to the establishing or operating of such business. The commissioner may, in his discretion, enter into an agreement with the appropriate agency of the United States Department of Agriculture to receive financial assistance therefrom in helping carry out the purpose of this article, and to pay a reasonable state-matching contribution as may be required.

(3) The commissioner shall inspect for wholesomeness all plants in operation which are not under federal inspection. Except as otherwise provided herein, the state shall pay the full costs for such inspection after September 1, 1968. Provided that so long as funds are available which have been appropriated by the Legislature for product inspection, the commissioner may employ and train inspection personnel and assign such personnel to plants for inspection for wholesomeness. No state funds shall be used for payment of overtime or for grading. Plant management shall reimburse the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce for inspection services of quail, rabbits, ratites and other exotic animals that are not regulated by mandate under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. Plants requesting such services must make application for voluntary inspection services and obtain an establishment "V" number.

(4) (a) The management of an official establishment shall reimburse the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, at the rate specified by the commissioner, for the cost of the inspection service furnished on any holiday as specified in paragraph (b) of this subsection (4), or for more than eight (8) hours on any day or more than forty (40) hours in any work week, Sunday through Saturday. No state funds shall be used for payment of overtime.

(b) Holiday for state employees shall be New Year's Day, January 1; Robert E. Lee's Birthday and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday, the third Monday of January; Washington's Birthday, the third Monday in February; Confederate Memorial Day, the last Monday in April; National Memorial Day and Jefferson Davis' Birthday, the last Monday of May; Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, the first Monday of September; Armistice or Veteran's Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, a day fixed by proclamation by the Governor; Christmas Day, December 25.

(c) State employees whose duties are performed in a meat or poultry plant which operates under a federal grant of inspection shall observe the designated federal holiday, and overtime pay shall be one hundred percent (100%) reimbursable from the United States Department of Agriculture.

SECTION 3. Section 75-33-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

75-33-37. (1) Any person found by the commissioner to be in violation of this article shall be assessed a penalty in an amount not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00). In addition to or in lieu of such penalties, the commissioner may suspend or revoke the permit or license of such person in the manner provided in this article. The commissioner shall notify such person of such action in writing delivered by United States Mail. Such person shall have fifteen (15) days after the notice is mailed within which to request in writing a hearing before the commissioner or his designee for the purpose of deciding whether or not the penalty imposed should be allowed to stand. The commissioner shall have the power to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents or physical evidence to administer oaths and hear testimony. If such person does not deliver the written request for a hearing within such time to the commissioner, the commissioner's original decision shall be final. An appeal, if taken, must be perfected within thirty (30) days after the decision of the commissioner with the circuit court of the county of the residence of the accused. If such person is a nonresident of the State of Mississippi, the case shall be appealed to the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. If any penalty imposed by the commissioner is not paid within thirty (30) days of becoming final, the commissioner may take such legal action as he deems appropriate to collect such penalty and the court shall award the commissioner reasonable attorney's fees and court costs to collect the penalty. The commission may invoke the remedy of injunction to enforce any of the provisions of this article. The commissioner may adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article.

(2) In addition to or in lieu of the remedies provided in subsection (1) of this section, any person who violates the provisions of this article shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned not more than one (1) year, or both; however, if such violation involves intent to defraud, or any distribution or attempted distribution of an article that is adulterated (except as defined in Section 4(g)(8) of the United States Poultry Inspection Act as amended), such person shall be fined not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or imprisoned not more than three (3) years, or both. When construing or enforcing the provisions of said sections the act, omission, or failure of any person acting for or employed by any individual, partnership, corporation, or association within the scope of his employment or office shall in every case be deemed the act, omission, or failure of such individual, partnership, corporation, or association, as well as of such person.

(3) No carrier for hire shall be subject to the penalties of this article, other than the penalties for violation of Section 11 of the United States Poultry Inspection Act as amended, by reason of his receipt, carriage, holding, or delivery, in the usual course of business, as a carrier, of poultry or poultry products, owned by another person unless the carrier has knowledge, or is in possession of facts which would cause a reasonable person to believe that such poultry or poultry products were not inspected or marked in accordance with the provisions of this article or were otherwise not eligible for transportation under this article or unless the carrier refuses to furnish on request of a representative of the commissioner of agriculture and commerce, the name and address of the person from whom he received such poultry or poultry products, and copies of all documents, if any there be, pertaining to the delivery of the poultry or poultry products to such carrier.

(4) Any person who forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person while engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties under this article shall be fined not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or imprisoned not more than three (3) years, or both. Whoever, in the commission of any such acts, uses a deadly or dangerous weapon, shall be fined not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or imprisoned not more than ten (10) years, or both. Whoever kills any person while engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties under this article shall be punished as provided by the general laws of this state.

(5) The assignment of inspectors may be temporarily suspended, in whole or in part, by the commissioner to the extent it is determined necessary to avoid impairment of the effective conduct of the program when the operator of any official establishment or any subsidiary therein, or any officer, employee or agent of any such operator or any subsidiary therein, acting within the scope of his office, employment or agency, threatens to forcibly assault or forcibly assaults, intimidates or interferes with any program employee in or on account of the performance of his official duties under this article unless, promptly upon the incident being brought by an authorized supervisor of the program employee to the attention of the operator of the establishment, the operator (a) satisfactorily justifies the incident; (b) takes effective steps to prevent a recurrence; or (c) provides acceptable assurance that there will not be any recurrences. Such suspension shall remain in effect until one of such actions is taken by the operator; provided, that upon request, the operator shall be afforded an opportunity for an expedited hearing to show cause why the suspension should be terminated.

SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.