The PRIME Act would boost local foods movement by easing burdensome federal regulations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation that would make it easier for small farms and ranches to provide locally-produced meats to consumers. The Processing Revival and Instrastate Meat Exemption Act, or PRIME Act, would give individual states the freedom to permit intrastate distribution of custom-slaughtered meat such as beef, pork, goat or lamb to consumers, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and grocery stores.
“In Maine, a growing number of consumers are looking to buy locally-produced meats. But as farmers try to match that increased demand, the most significant barrier is the capacity to have meat processed,” Senator King said. “It simply defies logic that a Maine farmer has to send their animals halfway across the state when they just want to sell the meat next door. By providing states with the option to regulate the processing and local sale of meats, the PRIME Act will restore a measure of commonsense to the process, support Maine’s farmers, and bolster the local foods movement, all while protecting consumer safety.”
“The PRIME Act will make it easier for farmers to sell and consumers to buy locally produced meat,” Senator Paul said.
Under current law, the custom slaughter of animals is exempt from federal inspection regulations only if the meat is slaughtered for personal, household, guest, or employee use. That means in order to sell individual cuts of locally-raised meats, farmers and ranchers must first send their animals to one of a limited number of state or USDA-inspected slaughterhouses, which are sometimes hundreds of miles away, adding substantially to transportation costs and stress on the animals.
According to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, there are five USDA-inspected and eight state-inspected meat processors in Maine. The PRIME Act would provide states with the option to develop and implement regulations creating a third Custom processor category for meats to be sold in-state. Doing so would help relieve the significant shortage of processing capacity and allow small farms, ranches, and slaughterhouses to thrive.
The legislation, which was introduced in the House of Representatives last year by Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), is supported by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance.