The scarcity of small-scale slaughterhouses is one of the biggest barriers to farmers’ ability to produce, and consumers’ ability to buy, locally raised meat. Many farmers have to haul their animals several hours to get to a processor, increasing costs and creating stress for the animals – and for some, it’s just not feasible.
H.R. 2657, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, would tackle the scarcity of small-scale slaughterhouses by allowing the sale of meat by the individual cut from “custom” slaughterhouses. Currently, meat can only be sold by the individual cut if it is from an animal slaughtered and processed at a federal or state inspected facility.
Many farmers have a custom slaughterhouse much closer than a federal or state-inspected facility. But under the current law, if the animal is processed at a custom facility, the meat can only go to the individual or individuals who owned the animal at the time the slaughter took place. This means that the customer(s) must buy the whole animal while it is still alive, effectively purchasing hundreds of pounds of meat without knowing the final weight or price per pound. Not many people can or want to do this!
The PRIME Act would give individual states the freedom to permit intra-state distribution of custom-slaughtered meat to individual consumers and to restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores that directly serve consumers. Beef, pork, lamb, and goat are covered under the bill.
The PRIME Act does not dictate what states should do. Each state would be able to set the requirements and limitations on the custom slaughterhouses that it considers appropriate.
Custom slaughterhouses are generally small facilities where often only a few animals are slaughtered each day; contrast that with the USDA-inspected plants where up to 300-400 cattle are slaughtered per hour. Small custom slaughterhouses can provide better quality control and safety than the massive plants that process the majority of meat in our country. Read more from Pete Kennedy in his legislative update: Wholesale Meat Act Hustle.
Will you help us build support for locally produced meat?
Call or email your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 2657, the PRIME Act.
You can find out who represents you by going to http://house.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Remember, calls are far more effective, and they can take just a couple of minutes! If you send an email, be sure to add a couple of sentences at the beginning to personalize it.
Sample message for calls/ emails:
As a constituent, I urge Representative ____ to co-sponsor H.R. 2657, the PRIME Act.
This important bill will make it easier for small farms and ranches to succeed financially and provide consumers with greater access to locally raised meats. The bill simply removes the federal ban on the sale of meat from custom slaughterhouses directly to consumers and venues serving consumers within a state, subject to state law. This returns power to the states to establish a regulatory scheme that makes sense for their citizens.
The PRIME Act is the first step to rebuilding local processing infrastructure, which can revive rural economies and enable communities to become more self-sufficient in meat production.
Please support our local farmers and consumer choice by co-sponsoring H.R. 2657.
If you are a livestock producer, take a few extra minutes and ask to speak to the staffer who handles agricultural issues. Briefly explain to the staffer any problems you have faced with lack of access to inspected slaughterhouses, and how the PRIME Act would help your business and benefit your customers.
NOTE: If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, be sure to say “Thank you!” when you call. If your Representative is not on this list, then use the sample message above.
The co-sponsors are Representatives:
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Justin Amash (R-MI)
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Dave Brat (R-VA)
Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
John Garamendi (D-CA)
Glenn Grothman (R-WI)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Walter Jones (R-NC)
Steve King (R-IA)
Raul Labrador (R-ID)
Jason Lewis (R-MN)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Robert Wittman (R-VA)