Montana lawmakers are joining the state's congressional delegation in asking the federal government for more information about alleged misconduct by federal food safety inspectors at meat processing businesses.
State lawmakers are concerned that small meat processing businesses are being treated differently than large businesses, among other allegations of misconduct by federal inspectors.
The legislative Economic Affairs Interim Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of sending a letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for answers.
If wrongdoing is found in a formal investigation, Nate McConnell, the vice chair of the committee, says an apology should be issued by the federal government to Montana businesses.
“They should apologize. If you make a mistake, you say I’m sorry,” McConnell says.
The legislative committee’s letter includes reporting from the Montana Standard newspaper, in Butte last September. It quotes an administrator from the federal Food Safety and Inspection Service saying that five of 11 reported allegations of harassment of a business by an inspector were substantiated.