June 29, 2020

Letter Sent to Seek Regulatory Reform for Small Meat Processing Plants

Letter Sent to Seek Regulatory Reform for Small Meat Processing Plants

House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Republican members sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reevaluate regulations that implement obstacles for small meat producers. In a letter, Representatives Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Ken Buck (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Greg Steube (R-FL.) stated that reducing regulatory burdens will increase competition and strengthen a crucial industry at an important time.

The letter lays out several areas for improvement. First, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans should give smaller meat processors more flexibility to comply with regulations, including during rapid production changes. Next, the USDA should streamline a method of meat label submissions and approval. An expansion of the USDA’s Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program should be implemented so state inspectors can approve meat to be sold outside of the state it is processed because only seven states are currently participating in the CIS programs. Finally, the letter asked the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to find a way to allow for more flexibility and decrease expenses for smaller processors that need overtime inspection.

“Short term, making sure small plants have the financial support to still be able to support the farmers and ranchers that use them during the pandemic is the immediate need from USDA,” Kelly Nuckolls, a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition told Politico.

“Long term, hopefully, we can think through solutions whether it’s in relief packages, farm bills, or climate change legislation,” she added. “I think it’s important we think about how we can create a better meat and poultry sector in the future.”

Both the House and Senate have introduced bills aimed to help small meat processing plants. The Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act of 2020 was introduced into the house by Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) to provide overtime and holiday fee relief for small meat, poultry, and egg processing plants. In the Senate, S.3840, A bill to protect the continuity of the food supply chain of the United States in response to COVID-19, and for other purposes, was introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

 

“High cost of complying with meat processing laws has made it hard for smaller processors to compete and has led to significant consolidation in the industry,” the letter states.