Strengthening Local Processing Act
Congress may soon consider a bill to expand the capacity of local meat and poultry processors.
If passed, the Strengthening Local Processing Act would help smaller facilities cover the cost of inspection and adapt to pandemic-related challenges. It would also support training for new meat processing employees.
The legislation is designed to help ranchers like George Whitten of San Juan Ranch near Saguache (sew watch) who told a Colorado Ag Producers Forum...
Whitten: “2020 I think, like a lot of us, is something I’d like to forget.”
In addition to drought forcing him to move cattle to eastern Colorado for grazing, COVID upended the ranch’s processing plans.
Whitten:” That has really effected our local processors. They became overwhelmed almost immediately when the big plants shut down due to COVID. One of the processors actually stopped doing USDA and just went to custom because he didn’t want to deal with the USDA stuff anymore. And we had a lot of slots there that we were counting on that all of a sudden aren’t available as USDA slots anymore. “
The legislation creates grants for small processors, state-inspected facilities, and custom facilities for COVID-19 response and recovery. It provides a $10 million grant program for colleges and universities for meat processing training programs and a $10 million grant program to offset the cost of training new processors. It would also increase the federal share of costs for state inspections.
Whitten says they lost all of our processing slots for the next year and a half but they’ve had meat up until now to serve customers. Next year maybe not.
Strengthening Local Processing Act was introduced by Representatives Chellie Pingree of Maine and Nebraska Representative Jeff Fortenberry.