Shoring Up Local Processing Options

Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced The Strengthening Local Processing Act, a comprehensive bill that addresses acute livestock supply chain issues and supports small meat and poultry processing plants, and issues the following statement in support of the legislation: “NSAC applauds Representatives Pingree and Fortenberry for leading the way on this bill, which reflects real needs for small processing plants and will foster a stronger sustainable livestock sector overall. NSAC and small processors across the country are excited to see the introduction of this bill, which reflects key priorities identified by the Coalition’s members and partners engaged in the small-scale processing sector.” 

The bill includes support for small plants’ compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans; increased cost share for state meat and poultry inspection programs; increased cost share and expansion of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program; a grant program to expand small plants, including small and very small federally inspected plants; and an education and training grant program. 

“Based on NMPAN’s 12 years of research, education, and providing technical assistance related to the viability of small and mid-scale meat processors, our organization finds that the provisions of the proposed ‘Strengthening Local Processing Act’ are thoughtfully designed and will address persistent challenges that our processor members frequently share with us,” said Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Director of the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network. “We think it gets at some of the core and complex challenges in the sector that many other bills have not addressed.”
“The Strengthening Local Processing Act offers necessary resources that small-scale USDA facilities like ours have been advocating for. The appropriate allocation of these resources, as proposed in the Strengthening Local Processing Act, will allow establishments like ours to continue to survive and thrive during these immensely challenging times,” said Nichole Sargent, Owner, Southpaw Packing Company, INC. DBA Windham Butcher Shop, based in Windham, Maine.
“The Strengthening Local Processing Act has the potential to have a large impact on small processors and farmers. It can help create resiliency in the food supply and additionally support rural communities,” said Andy Shaw, CEO Cypress Valley Meat Company and Natural State Processing, of Clinton, Arkansas.     
Kevin Barnhill, owner of the Blair Meat Market in Blair, Nebraska, offered: “The Strengthening Local Processing Act is a winning proposal. Business owners will appreciate the targeted assistance. Farmers will profit from increased market opportunities. Consumers will benefit most of all from access to fresh and local foods.”
“The programs created and increased in this bill are absolutely necessary for the safe processing and distribution of meat in our nation,” said Ben Meyer, co-owner at Revel Meat Company in Canby, Oregon. “As we have seen in the past year, relying on large consolidated meat processing facilities to dominate our domestic markets leave consumers at dangerous risk of losing access to safe, clean meat from the local ranchers who produce it.” 
Small processors were also excited to see a focus on scale-appropriate regulations, and support for education of the next generation of small-scale, niche meat processors. 
“It provides financial relief for required food safety activities, reducing the regulatory burden on small companies with limited resources,” said Jim Wells, CEO of the North American Bison, LLC in New Rockford, North Dakota. “This financial support for the colleges and universities would be used to develop curriculum and programs in meats and meat processing, resulting in a more competent and resilient workforce for bison processors.”
For more information, see the one-page bill summary here.