By now, most Texans are familiar with Sid Miller. Famous for his ever-present cowboy hat, the state agriculture commissioner – who’s also a rancher and a Republican – has generated his share of controversy in recent months. But this week he’s making news on his own terms with a commentary written for TribTalk, the editorial wing of the Texas Tribune.
Miller’s essay has a provocative title: “When It comes to barbecue, trust but verify.” And no, Miller’s beef has nothing to do with who’s serving the best brisket, but rather with a bill overwhelmingly passed by both the House and Senate, which would exempt barbecue joints from having to register their scales.
Miller says purveyors of barbecue should have to abide by the same rules everyone else in the food chain does.
“I’m a rancher. I take my calves to market and I sell ’em by the pound,” Miller says. “And they’re sold on a certified, registered scale. The man that buys those – he buys them off of a certified registered scale, and he goes to the feedlot.”
Miller says the process of weighing and certifying beef products continues from feedlot to packing house, to meat company to the “barbecue guy.”
“Now why should the barbecue place not have to sell his barbecue on certified, registered scales?” Miller says.
In the face of strong support for the bill in the legislature, Miller says he is appealing to Governor Greg Abbott, whose signature or veto will determine whether barbecue sellers will be exempt from laws that govern other by-the-pound food sellers.
“What’s next – are we gonna not check all the fuel pumps? What’s next – we’re not gonna check fruits and vegetables? We’re not gonna check the livestock auctions and let them cheat the farmer?”