Small meat, poultry slaughter act introduced to legislation
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., on Tuesday introduced legislation to support small meat and poultry processors.
The Strengthening Local Processing Act would increase the federal share of costs for state inspection from 50% to 65% and for Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) facilities from 60% to 80%, thus encouraging more states to operate state inspection programs and participate in CIS. There are 27 states that operate a state inspection program and eight states that participate in CIS.
The legislation would also authorize competitive grants to small and very small establishments, state-inspected facilities, custom exempt facilities, or new small-scale slaughter facilities for activities related to COVID-19 response and recovery. It would also authorize a new $10 million grant program for colleges and universities to establish or expand meat processing training programs and a new $10 million grant program for small and very small establishments or nongovernmental organizations to offset the cost of training new meat processors.
“Maine has almost 3,400 diversified small farms that raise livestock, but our farmers have to book their dates as soon as the hooves hit the ground because the processing availability is so strained,” said Pingree. “Under the Strengthening Local Processing Act, our state would have increased slaughter and processing capacity, allowing us to produce much more meat and chicken right here in Maine. This legislation would bring much needed relief to Maine farmers, offer support for Maine’s small slaughterhouses and butchers, many of which are family-owned businesses, and allow consumers to access the local products they desire, especially during this time of disruption to the national supply chain.”
“There is a broadening concern over corporate concentration in the meatpacking industry. In a previous time, we had more local meat processing. This bill helps stimulate a return to that previous model, creating a robust market in local economies, linking the farm to the family,” Fortenberry said.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Niche Meat Processors Network, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Bison Association and the Center for Rural Affairs all praised the bill.
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