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Expanding Local Meat Processing Act Introduced

By: Sydney Sheffield 

Expanding Local Meat Processing Act, a companion act to the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States Act (A-Plus Act), has been introduced to the Senate. The bill would reduce regulatory red tape to enable livestock auction market owners to invest in small meat packing operations. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the bill, which is supported by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association. 

“It should be a no-brainer to cut bureaucratic red tape, eliminate outdated regulations that are hindering the livestock industry, and increase processing capacity,” said Senator Ernst. “Allowing livestock auction owners to invest in local and regional meat packers will expedite the safe processing of meat, increase competition within the industry, and, ultimately, lower meat costs for consumers.”

Currently, livestock auction markets are not able to own, invest in, manage, or operate a packing plant or meat marketing business due to a Packers and Stockyards Act regulation. The Expanding Local Meat ProcessingAct amends the Packers and Stockyards Act to remove this barrier. The bills allow livestock auction market owners to hold ownership in, finance, or participate in the management or operation of a meat packing entity with a cumulative slaughter capacity of fewer than 2,000 animals per day, or 700,000 animals per year. This cap would exclude investment in the top 10 meat packers.

"The Iowa Cattlemen's Association appreciates Sen. Ernst's commitment to support Iowa's beef cattle producers," said Bob Noble, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. "Daily slaughter capacity in Iowa falls short of our fed cattle production. We recognize the value of livestock auction markets in our supply chain, representing the interests of both sellers and buyers. Updating the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow for their participation in the small and regional processing sector may facilitate a more competitive marketplace outside of the Big Four."

"The basic construct of the stockyard model is a tired, old throwback to a time when large companies tried to control hard-working family farms," Chad Tentinger, the principal developer at Cattlemen's Heritage Beef Co. said. "Sale barns are more efficient, local family enterprises that work in tandem with family farms for the mutual benefit of each other and growing Iowa's agricultural foundation."

Read the full bill here