Ask your Reps and Senators to co-sponsor the PRIME Act in support of small farmers and local food.
At RFCC, we work hard to make sure that small farmers are represented in Congress. We are so happy that Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) have reintroduced the bi-partisan PRIME Act in the House and Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have reintroduced it in the Senate!
The PRIME Act (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) creates opportunities for local slaughterhouses to process meats from farms in-state and return that meat to farmers for them to sell. Currently, regulations require farmers to process meats at only USDA-inspected facilities if they want to sell their own meat.
Custom slaughterhouses are exempt from USDA inspection, but animal owners can only use that meat for personal use--they may not sell that meat even to friends, family, and neighbors. This means that people can buy a whole animal and then pay the processing costs themselves if they want the meat. But, not many Americans can afford to purchase an entire animal or have the space to store that much meat.
The PRIME Act expands on this exemption by allowing states to create their own custom-slaughter regulations. Farmers would then be able to sell their "custom-slaughtered" meats to any customers, restaurants, etc within their state. This creates untold economic opportunity for local farmers and the local economies are enriched by small, custom slaughterhouses.
Additionally, this opens doors for consumers who want to support local farms. And, it works to lower prices for local meats by providing options for farmers. After all, local, grassfed and pastured meats should be available to all Americans who want them, not just families who can afford the artificially higher prices or bulk purchase options.
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In 1967 "Congress passed the Wholesome Meat Act, requiring producers to use a USDA-inspected facility if they sell meat across state lines. A mass consolidation of the meat industry followed. Today, commodity meat is dominated by large companies. Just four companies sell about 85% of America's beef and the pork and chicken markets are similarly controlled by huge corporations" (Bloomberg News).
Now, fewer than 900 USDA and 2,000 custom slaughterhouses (pg 62) exist.
We need more options! Take action here to ask your Reps and Senators to support your local farms!
The decline in slaughter facilities has created a consolidation issue that leads to massive meat recalls and increased food safety risks.
Over the past few years, we have seen an incredible rise in meat recalls from USDA-inspected slaughterhouses putting consumers at great risk. In fact, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified federal oversight and centralized processing as a key risk factor for foodborne illness.
In 2018 alone, there was close to 21 million pounds of meat recalled from meat processed at USDA facilities. From 2016-2018 alone, USDA recalled 100 Million pounds of meat.
With smaller, local slaughterhouses as an option, we do not need to rely solely on meat from huge facilities to feed our families.
- The PRIME Act will give farmers local options.
- Increasing options for farmers and consumers helps boost local economies.
- Many American consumers want to support local farms by purchasing small amounts of meat. We need the option to purchase meat by the cut from a farmer we know and trust.
- Empowering communities to cooperate in food production and processing helps the environment through limiting transport or animals.
- Food safety is important. Americans should be able to get their meat from small, local facilities they can see. Knowing owners and operators of facilities is possible when they are in our communities.
- Costs are high enough for small farmers. Farmers need reasonable options for processing so they can keep costs down and make a living farming.
- High processing costs mean higher prices for consumers. All Americans deserve the option to secure locally raised meats without artificial price increases due to overarching federal requirements.
- States already regulate and inspect custom slaughterhouses. If farmers can eat and serve the meat, they should also be able to sell it to customers who want it.
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