Should Congress deregulate small meat processing plants to support local ranchers and meat consumption?

• "NPPC is opposed to the PRIME Act because it would allow for the commercial sale of non-inspected meat products. USDA’s FSIS or fully equivalent state inspection systems are essential partners, along with producers, packers and processors, in delivering safe meat products that consumers can enjoy with confidence. Federal and state inspection programs also are a key component in protecting animal health by ensuring that every animal offered for commercial slaughter is inspected for signs of disease, in particular foreign animal diseases that pose a significant threat to the viability of American agriculture." Source: National Pork Producers Council (Official Statement)
• "[T]he Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption “PRIME” Act—would critically undermine food safety. At the same time, these laws would do little to address the anticompetitive market conditions that are at the heart of recent supply chain disruptions in the meat industry...[W]hat S.1720’s proponents fail to mention is that the capacity of state-inspected slaughter facilities is negligible compared to the massive federally inspected facilities that have closed...Allowing interstate sales from state-inspected slaughterhouses therefore will have no significant impact on the “backlogs” of animals planned for slaughter. " Source: Safe Food Coalition (Letter to Congress)
• "The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our food system, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our meat and poultry slaughterhouses, where decades of industry consolidation has concentrated workers into large, crowded establishments where disease can spread swiftly, shutting down large segments of the food supply overnight. Yet Congress must not address these shortcomings by undoing the vital inspection safeguards that ensure the safety of our food. Rather than undermine federal inspection requirements, we urge Congress to work with USDA and state authorities to extend and strengthen the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program, laying the groundwork to support and enhance local and regional supply chains while also ensuring food safety standards are met." Source: Safe Food Coalition (Letter to Congress)
• "All across Maine, local farmers are creating superior agricultural products – but when they try to sell these products within their communities, they face burdensome regulations that make things far too complicated. A Maine farmer shouldn’t have to send his or her animals halfway across the state for processing just so they can sell the product to a neighbor. Let’s cut through this red tape, so our local farmers don’t have to jump through any extra hoops." Source: Senator Angus King (Independent, Maine)
• "Consumers want to know where their food comes from, what it contains, and how it’s processed. Yet, federal inspection requirements make it difficult to purchase food from trusted, local farmers. It is time to open our markets to give producers the freedom to succeed and consumers the freedom to choose." Source: Representative Thomas Massie (Republican, Kentucky, District 4)
• "In order for local farms to compete, they need scale-appropriate regulations. It’s not realistic to ask a local farmer in Maine to drive hours to get to a USDA-inspected processing facility and turn a profit. The PRIME Act will help change federal regulations to make it easier to process meat locally—helping farmers scale up and give consumers what they so clearly want." Source: Representative Chellie Pingree (Democrat, Maine, District 1)
• "There are all these custom slaughterhouses out there producing meat all the time, and yet we’re not seeing these foodborne illnesses coming out of them. The reason we’re seeing so many recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks is the massive-scale, centralized processing. By supporting scale-appropriate regulations that help support local, smaller-scale production, in the big picture we’re improving food safety." Source: Judith McGreary (Executive Director, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance)
• "I don’t think [the opposition is] really about food safety. I think it’s about the four companies that control over 80 percent of the beef market and the four companies that own 60 percent of the pork market." Source: Elizabeth Rich (Executive Director, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund)
• "The PRIME Act could help reduce the severity of the meat shortages and price increases for consumers in the coming months, while providing income for small farmers and ranchers across the country. In the long-term, the PRIME Act can make it feasible for more small processors to be established or expanded, helping with vital infrastructure as we seek to rebuild our economy from this crisis. And it provides long-term environmental benefits by reducing the transportation miles and vehicle emissions from livestock hauling. " Source: Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (Letter to Congress Signed by over 50 nonprofits and over 200 farmers and ranchers)
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