As consumer desire for local, grass-fed meat grows, it’s increasingly difficult for farmers to meet the demand due to a shortage of government-inspected slaughterhouses.
Current federal law bans the sale of meat to consumers unless it has been processed in a USDA-inspected facility or under a state inspection program with the exact same standards as the USDA facilities. These regulations are designed for the large, industrial-scale processors, and they are too expensive and difficult to meet for most small-scale processors who work with local farmers.
With few slaughterhouses available to small farmers, many have to haul their animals for several hours, resulting in increased expenses, higher prices for consumers, and unnecessary stress on the transported animals.
“Custom” slaughterhouses, for which states can set their own inspection standards, do exist, and many farmers already have much closer access to one of these facilities. But current federal law provides that these facilities may only process meat for the person or persons who owned the animal when the slaughter took place. This means the customer(s) must buy the whole animal while it is still alive – buying a large amount of meat all at one time, without even knowing how much meat they’ll end up with or what their price per pound will be. This is not feasible for most farmers or consumers!
H.R. 2859/ S.1620, known as the PRIME Act, addresses this problem by repealing the federal ban on the sale of meat from custom slaughterhouses. The bill allows states to set their own standards for the sale of meat within the state processed at a custom slaughterhouse.
The PRIME Act is a win-win-win: we can increase farmers’ incomes, increase consumer access to locally raised meat, reduce federal regulations on small businesses, cut down on fossil fuel use, and improve animal welfare.
Filed by Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and Senator Angus King (I-ME), the PRIME Act already bipartisan support with 17 co-sponsors from over a dozen states – but we need to build more support in order to move it forward. Will you help?
Call your U.S. Representative and Senators and urge them to sign on to H.R. 2859 and S. 1620. You can look up who represents you at https://www.congress.gov/ or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Below is a sample message for your call or email. Remember that calls have a greater impact, and only take a couple of minutes. Use this sample message as a starting point – tailor it to your own language and focus on why this issue is important to you. Personalized messages are the best way to convince legislators!
As a constituent, I urge Representative ____ to co-sponsor H.R. 2859, the PRIME Act. [OR: I urge Senator ___ to co-sponsor S.1620, the PRIME Act]
This bill opens up more options for small farms and ranches, and thus for the consumers who want to buy from them. 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 supports local food production and small businesses, while also reducing vehicle miles traveled with livestock trailers and helping to meet the consumer demand for locally raised foods.
Please support our local farmers and consumer choice by co-sponsoring H.R. 2859.
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.
H.R. 2859 co-sponsors:
Justin Amash (R-MI)
Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Tim Burchett (R-TN)
Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
John Garamendi (D-CA)
Jared Golden (D-ME)
Mark Green (R-TN)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Steve King (R-IA)
Thomas Massie (R-KY)
Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Carol D. Miller (R-WV)
Alexander X. Mooney (R-WV)
Scott Perry (R-PA)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
S. 1620 was filed Senator Angus King (I-ME) and is co-sponsored by Rand Paul (R-KY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN)