Tell Congress to Let States Decide
|“Let States Decide whether to allow the sale of custom meats.
View White Paper – bit.ly/PRIME-ACT
House Resolution H.R. 3187, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, would give States the freedom to pass laws allowing the sale of custom-slaughtered and -processed meat within their state lines. Passage of the PRIME Act would support small farmers who currently lack reasonable access to processing facilities, improve consumer access to locally raised meats, and help revitalize rural communities.
Under current federal law, meat from a custom facility cannot be sold. Instead, it can only go to the individual or individuals who owned the animal at the time the slaughter took place. This means that the customers must buy the whole animal while it is still alive, effectively purchasing hundreds of pounds of meat without even knowing the final weight or the price per pound. This is not desirable or even feasible for most consumers. Laws for poultry are separate.
One of the biggest obstacles for livestock farmers around the country is the lack of access to slaughterhouses. Often, the “local” slaughterhouse is the only game in town and has no market incentive to provide good service to customers. “Local” could mean several hours away, resulting in significant added expense for the farmer and additional stress on the animals. Attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) worked on the bill with Massie’s staff.
“Until 1967, states were able to set their own regulations for meat processing,” explained FTCLDF President Pete Kennedy. “The Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 was sold to the public as a consumer protection bill, but it has wound up being an industry consolidation measure. Between 1967 and 2010, we lost more than half of the federally inspected slaughterhouses in the country, severely reducing options for small farmers. And while there were 15,000 non-federally inspected slaughterhouses in 1967, today there is only a small fraction of that number.”
Joel Salatin observed, “As the integrity food movement has grown, the lack of community-available meat and poultry processing options has become the single biggest hurdle between the farmer and the would-be customer.” He continued, “Allowing states to decide to free up their customhouses and farmers to enable cheaper market access to neighbors is one of the most sensible food freedom ideas to come along in a long time. This is just one way to encourage integrity food and direct producer-consumer commerce rather than impede it.”
The two-page White Paper on the PRIME Act prepared by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund elaborates on the issues. When promoting the PRIME Act, here are some points to emphasize:
- H.R. 3187 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.
If you are a livestock producer, take a few extra minutes and call 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.
Call Your U.S. Representative about PRIME ActTell Congress to Support Local Meat Production!
Congress is back in session, and there are a lot of issues to tackle, from the budget to GMO labeling. 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 allow 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?
Please pass this alert on and ask others to do the same.
Share link www.bit.ly/FTC-PRIME
Call or email your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3187, the PRIME Act. A phone call is more effective than an email, so please call if you are able.
You can find out who represents you by going to www.house.gov or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
A phone call is more effective than an email. If you do send an email, please be sure to add a couple of personal sentences in the beginning so that it’s not just a form message. Here’s a sample script for a call:
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.[Name] [City, State]
8/26/15 – Does Your Representative Support Local Farms?
Meet With Your U.S. Representative Now!
Will you help? The Representatives are in their home districts until September 8, so now is a great time to meet your legislator in person and urge him or her to sign on to the PRIME Act.
8/6/15 – Tell Congress to Support Local Meat Production
Contact Your U.S. Representative Now!
Will you help move this important bill forward? Please contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to co-sponsor the PRIME Act! See details below.
7/23/15 – Press Release: Massie and Pingree Introduce Landmark Bill on Custom Meat Processing
Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced House Bill H.R. 3187, a bill that would significantly increase access to locally produced meat for consumers around the country. H.R. 3187 also known as the PRIME Act (the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act), would return power to the states to determine appropriate regulations on meat processing for local sales.
Is your U.S. Representative a cosponsor? Click here
Last Updated – 10/18/15
Page shortlink: TBA