Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) introduced the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (A-PLUS) Act, which would fix regulatory roadblocks to increasing meat processing capacity and allow livestock auction market owners to invest in small and regional packing facilities.
This legislation directs the Secretary of Agriculture to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow livestock auction market owners to hold ownership in, finance, or participate in the management or operation of a meat packing entity with a cumulative slaughter capacity of less than 2,000 animals per day or 700,000 animals per year. This cap would exclude investment in the top 10 meat packers.
“The need for new packing facilities has become a critical issue for the cattle industry. Huge amounts of capital are required to get new facilities up and running. Understanding the need for these new facilities, producers themselves have invested in these efforts but outdated regulations still prevent livestock markets from having ownership in packing facilities. The A-PLUS Act paves the way for the marketing segment of the cattle industry to be included as investors in these facilities, helping reduce dependence on major packers and improving the competitiveness of the live cattle market,” said Clint Berry, chairman of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Livestock Marketing Council.
Livestock auction markets, called marketing agencies selling on commission, are not currently able to own or invest, or participate in the management or operation of a packing plant or meat marketing business due to a Packers and Stockyards Act regulation. In today’s environment, where the cattle industry is focused on additional shackle space and increasing packer competition for livestock, this legislation is essential in removing this unnecessary barrier in the cattle industry.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said, “For decades, livestock auction markets have played by an outdated and restrictive book of rules which limited capacity and created a system where large meat packer behemoths literally and figuratively slaughtered the competition. The A-PLUS Act would even the playing field and fix these regulations for the benefit of our livestock auctions and small packers.”
United States Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller said, “The Packers & Stockyards Act is over one hundred years old — it’s time to modernize parts of this historic legislation that no longer make sense in the modern world. Today’s livestock auctions are often family-owned and regionally based. If one of these entities wanted to invest in a local processing facility to increase processing capacity for producers in their area, there shouldn’t be an outdated regulation holding them back from doing so.”