Congress is back in session, and it’s a good time to get their attention. One bill that was filed just before Congress recessed for the summer holds great promise for the local food movement – if we can get it to move!
H.R. 3187, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, would tackle one of the greatest challenges facing local farmers and consumers seeking local food — the lack of infrastructure, particularly the lack of small-scale slaughterhouses.
Under current federal law, farmers often have to haul their animals several hours away to reach a slaughterhouse that has an inspector on-site – even if they’re just selling the meat directly to consumers at a local farmers market or similar venue. This increases expenses for the farmer, raises prices for consumers, creates stress on the animals, and undermines the concept of local food.
The farmer might have a “custom” slaughterhouse much closer. But under the federal regulations, the meat from a custom facility 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, accepting a lot of variability and uncertainty in the pricing, quantity, and final product. For many farmers and consumers, this simply doesn’t work.
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. Custom-processed beef, pork, lamb, and goat are covered under the bill. Each state would be able to set the requirements and limitations on the custom slaughterhouses it considers appropriate.
Eleven Representatives from both parties have joined Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), the author of the bill, in supporting local meat production: Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Walter Jones (R-NC), Jared Polis (D-CO), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Justin Amash (R-MI), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), John Duncan (R-TN), and Mike Coffman (R-CO).
This is a wonderful show of bipartisan support, but we need a lot more Representatives to sign on to give this bill the momentum it needs!
Will you help us move this important bill forward?
Call or email your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3187, the PRIME Act.
You can find out who represents you by going to www.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!
Sample message for calls/ emails:
As a constituent, I urge Representative ____ to co-sponsor H.R. 3187, 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. 3187.
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.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has a white paper posted at www.farmtoconsumer.org/blog/2015/09/03/support-h-r-3187-the-prime-act-processing-revival-and-intrastate-meat-exemption/ (you can download a pdf version, to share with your Representative, at the end of the article)