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Thune, Brown, Pingree, Baird Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand and Strengthen Local Meat Processing Capabilities

Bipartisan, Bicameral legislation would support meat processors, strengthen their operations

February 8, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jim Baird (R-Ind.) plan to reintroduce the Strengthening Local Processing Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation, which will be formally reintroduced tomorrow, would provide support to America’s small meat and poultry processors and help strengthen and streamline their operations. The bill would also give small meat processors more access to information that is critical to food safety planning, allow for more inspector-approved meat products to be sold across state lines, and funnel federal dollars toward training, education, and technical assistance grants.

“South Dakota’s producers work hard to raise high-quality livestock, and it is imperative that we invest in expanding processing capacity to help them meet consumer demands,” said Thune. “My bill would support small meat and poultry processors’ operations and provide more local marketing opportunities for livestock producers.”

“If we’re serious about fighting consolidation in the livestock sector, we need to invest in Ohio’s small processors that will help create jobs in their community making our supply chain more resilient and bring down prices,” said Brown. “This legislation will bolster local production while providing education and training assistance to support the next generation of local processors across Ohio.”

“One of the top concerns I hear about from livestock producers in my district is how difficult it is to access USDA processing facilities,” said Pingree. “Their livelihoods depend on having somewhere to take their animals, but under the current system, their options are severely limited. Chefs, retailers, and consumers want to buy locally raised meat, and they’re frustrated by how difficult it’s become to get it. My Strengthening Local Processing Act will increase processing, enhance opportunities for local producers, and help small slaughterhouses and butchers grow their businesses – delivering the quality, locally-raised meat and poultry consumers expect at the store.”

“Hoosier farmers appreciate having alternatives for selling their livestock and the opportunity to have a custom process for niche markets they may personally develop,” said Baird. “Large corporations are able to move large volumes of processed meats and poultry through the food supply chain; this legislation provides local producers the tools they need to be successful and local meat processors the ability to thrive and drive greater competition in this otherwise challenging and exclusive market.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

The legislation is supported by South Dakota Farm Bureau, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and the National Bison Association. Read their statements of support for this bipartisan legislation here.

Thune, who has helped write four farm bills throughout his time in Congress, will continue introducing farm bill proposals ahead of the current bill’s expiration, which is set for September 2023.