PRIME Act would encourage local meat sales at custom plants

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) re-introduced the PRIME (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) again this year. The two have introduced the bill in the past, but haven’t succeeded in passing it.

The bill would loosen regulations to allow meat such as beef, pork or lamb from custom kill plants (not state or federally-inspected) to be sold to consumers, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and grocery stores.

Ranchers can currently sell animals to customers, while the animal is live. The rancher or customer can then deliver the animal to a custom plant for butchering. But neither the rancher nor the customer can sell that meat piece by piece if it was slaughtered at a custom plant.

Currently meat must be slaughtered at a state or USDA – inspected plant in order to be sold piece by piece (not in a whole, half or quarter carcass) across state lines. Meat butchered at a state inspected plant can legally be sold within said state, but some states, like Nebraska don’t have a state inspection program.

Even at USDA-inspected plants, not every carcass is inspected, but the federal inspector and the plant follow certain protocols and the inspector looks at and tests a certain percentage of the meat.

The PRIME Act would potentially give ranchers another option for marketing their meat, and would give local restaurants, grocery stores and other food service establishments the ability to more affordably source local meat. With custom plants reportedly already over-full and over-booked, they may need to expand staff or hours to meet added demand. It may not be a solution in the short term but could encourage support for additional custom exempt plants across the country. R-CALF USA supports the PRIME Act. F