March 23, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are introducing legislation that would make it easier for small farms to sell their locally-produced, meat products to nearby communities. The Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act would give states the option to certify custom-slaughtered meats for sale to consumers, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and more. Custom-slaughter facilities are annually inspected facilities that process safe, and clean beef, pork, lamb, and goat from small farms for private consumption, but are not currently allowed to make public sales.
“There are Maine farmers who have to transport their livestock halfway across the state for slaughter just to go back home and sell the delicious product to their neighbor. That’s plain silly,” said Senator King. “Maine farms are known for world-class, safe meat and the federal government shouldn’t be imposing unnecessary regulations on the sales of these products. If Maine or Kentucky wants to let a farm sell fresh, safe meat in their communities using a custom-slaughterhouse, Washington has no business saying no.”
“With the cost of food continually increasing, it is now more important than ever for families to have direct access to the resources of small farms and ranches for local foods,” said Dr. Paul. “The PRIME Act will make it easier for farmers to sell and consumers to buy locally-produced meat.”
Under current law, farmers and ranchers must have their animals processed at a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified facility to sell their product commercially. However, many states such as Maine have a limited amount of USDA-approved processing facilities, which are often at capacity. This makes it expensive and time-consuming for farmers to transport their animals, sometimes across the state or even out of state when they intend to sell the meat to their neighbors. The PRIME Act would give states the authority to allow meat from custom-slaughter facilities to be sold for general consumption. This would help relieve the significant shortage of processing capacity and allow small farms, ranches, and slaughterhouses to significantly increase sales.
In addition to Senators King and Paul, cosponsors include Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-T.N.), Mike Braun (R-I.N.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mike Lee (R-U.T.).
Senator King has been a strong advocate for Maine farmers by helping to assist them to widen their markets. He recently introduced the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act that would allow meat and poultry products inspected by state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines. He has also introduced the Expanding Agricultural Exports Act to increase agricultural exports by $7.4 billion by doubling funding for the advertising programs of agricultural goods in foreign countries.