May 25, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) reintroduced 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, we are in the midst of a thriving local foods movement with a growing number of people looking to buy locally-produced meats. But farmers are facing a serious obstacle in meeting that supply due to a limited number of meat processing facilities,” Senator King said. “It makes no sense that a Maine farmer would have to send their animals halfway across the state when they’re looking to sell the meat to their neighbor. This bill, which I’m proud to introduce with my colleague Senator Rand Paul, will give states like Maine more flexibility to regulate the processing and local sale of meats – a common-sense measure that will support Maine farmers and the local foods movement, all while maintaining customer safety.”
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.
There are currently 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 reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today 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.