Livestock News

New bill would expand meat processing capacity


Cattlemen and agriculture groups are excited about a new bill recently introduced to help improve meat processors. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP UP) Act, which provides federal incentives to improve beef processing capacity.

The RAMP UP Act would establish a program to make facility upgrades and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to Federal Inspection and be able to sell their products across state lines. The legislation would also require the United States Department of Agriculture to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruptions to beef processing which were devastating to cattle producers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President Don Schiefelbein. “The RAMP UP Act addresses these supply chain issues by ensuring cattle ranchers and farmers have robust access to new markets regardless of where their livestock is processed.”

Introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson (D-MN), Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), David Rouzer (R-NC), Jim Costa (D-CA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and Angie Craig (D-MN), the RAMP UP Act will bolster market access for cattle producers and keep store shelves across the country stocked with wholesome and nutritious beef products.

The RAMP UP Act authorizes federal grants up to $100,000 for existing meat processors to become federally inspected. Currently, state inspected and custom exempt processors cannot sell meat in interstate commerce and the process to become compliant with, and inspected by, the Food Safety and Inspection Service is expensive and daunting. If enacted, the RAMP UP Act would ease this burden on processors and benefit cattle producers by opening new markets for the beef they produce.

“Over the past several decades, we have come to rely on fewer and larger facilities to process all of our meat,” said National Farmers Union President Rob Larew. “This system, though efficient, is particularly vulnerable to disruptions — a fact that has become impossible to ignore as coronavirus outbreaks at just a handful of plants have backed up the entire supply chain. Small and medium sized plants can ensure greater resilience and food security in times of crisis, as well as flexibility in marketing for farmers and ranchers. By helping meat processing plants cover the often prohibitive cost of federal inspections, the RAMP UP Act will bolster a strong and reliable meat supply chain for farmers and consumers alike.”

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