April 27, 2023

Animal ag groups call for expanding meat packing capacities

Animal ag groups call for expanding meat packing capacities 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), American Sheep Industry Association (ASIA), Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council, and the United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) sent a letter to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. The letter expresses the groups' support of legislation to allow livestock market owners and operators to own or invest in small or regional livestock packing facilities.

The letter addresses the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (A-PLUS) Act, and its Senate companion, the Expanding Local Meat Processing Act. These bills would allow livestock auction market owners to own or invest in small and regional packing plants. These bills would also direct the secretary of agriculture to update a regulatory prohibition under the Packers and Stockyards Act that bars livestock auction owners from owning or investing in packers. Large processors, and their subsidiaries, will be prevented from gaining a stake in the livestock marketing industry.

“The desire to expand capacity and add new packers to the marketplace has caused some within the livestock industry to explore new or expanding packing plant projects. Some of these projects involve pooling funds from investors within the industry,” the letter states. “Livestock auction owners have also expressed interest in being part of the solution and getting involved in the meat packing business.”

Currently, restrictions forbid livestock auction owners from having a part in the meat packing industry. Additionally, supply chain challenges in the livestock packing sector over the last few years highlighted the need to increase livestock packing capacity in the United States. The letter asks Congress to support modernizing the current law to help increase packing capacity and add competition for producers. 

“Unfortunately, 9 CFR 201.67 prohibits owning both a livestock auction and a packer or even a meat marketing business. This is an antiquated rule that does not fit with the current, transparent method of selling livestock at an open auction where sellers can view the transaction either in person or by streaming the auction online,” the letter says. “We ask that your committees consider and advance this commonsense legislation which will increase packing capacity, add competition for producers, and modernize the law by reducing an unnecessary and outdated regulatory burden.” 

Read the letter here