February 8, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Washington, DC, February 8, 2023 – Tomorrow, Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Representative Jim Baird (R-IN) plan to reintroduce the Strengthening Local Processing Act (SLPA) in both the House and Senate. SLPA is a comprehensive bill that promotes competitive agricultural markets and invests in economic development by addressing acute livestock supply chain issues, supporting small meat and poultry processing plants, and promoting training programs that will bolster the resilience of communities and their food systems.
“NSAC applauds Senators Thune and Brown and Representatives Pingree and Baird for leading the way on this bill, which will address real needs for small processing plants and the producers they serve, and foster a stronger sustainable livestock sector overall. NSAC and small processors across the country are pleased to see the introduction of this bill, which reflects key priorities identified by our Coalition members and partners engaged in the regional processing sector,” said Connor Kippe, NSAC policy specialist.
SLPA will help catalyze a much needed expansion of choice for consumers, workers, farmers, and USDA. Earlier this year, reporting surfaced that the market share of JBS and other major packers has made it impossible for USDA to consider breaking ties with them – despite significant concerns raised over JBS’ parent company’s ethics and integrity – without adversely impacting taxpayers. Now more than ever, there is a need to build greater capacity among independent processors to meet the demand for regionally-produced meat and expand government procurement options.
The bill includes support for small plants’ compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans; increased cost share for state meat and poultry inspection programs; increased cost share and expansion of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program; a grant program to expand small plants, including small and very small federally inspected plants; and an education and training grant program.
“Our 15 years of research, education, and providing technical assistance related to the viability of small and mid-scale meat processors shows that the solutions proposed by the Strengthening Local Processing Act are thoughtfully designed and will address persistent challenges that our processor members frequently share with us,” said Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Director of the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network. “SLPA gets at some of the core and complex challenges in the sector that many other bills have not addressed.”
“The Strengthening Local Processing Act offers necessary resources that small-scale USDA facilities like ours have been advocating for. The appropriate allocation of these resources, as proposed in the Strengthening Local Processing Act, will allow establishments like ours to continue to survive and thrive during these immensely challenging times,” noted Nichole Sargent, Owner, Southpaw Packing Company, INC. (DBA Windham Butcher Shop), based in Windham, Maine.
“The programs created and enhanced in this bill are absolutely necessary for the safe processing and distribution of meat in our nation,” said Ben Meyer, co-owner at Revel Meat Company in Canby, Oregon. “As we have seen in the past years, relying on large, consolidated meat processing facilities to dominate our domestic markets leave consumers at dangerous risk of losing access to safe, clean meat from the local ranchers who produce it.”
Small processors are also excited to see a focus on scale-appropriate regulations, and support for education for the next generation of small-scale and niche meat processors. The bill will help support a wider variety of processing, as it promotes the scale of plants that work best with a wider variety of often smaller-herd producers, such as bison, goat, and sheep.
“The National Bison Association fully supports the Strengthening Local Processing Act, as the bison industry needs more small processor capacity to meet the needs of our growing sector of American Agriculture. The bison industry processes just .02% of what the beef industry processes annually in the United States, and our largest bison processing plant, by far, has less than 270 employees. This legislation is critically important as bison producers across the United States are more and more connecting directly to consumers seeking naturally raised local bison meat,” stated Jim Matheson, Executive Director of the National Bison Association.
This type of investment in plants will not only help farmers, ranchers, and processors, but will also have multiplier effects in their local communities and in construction, retail, and other small businesses.
“This is a pattern we see in so many industries – small and mid-sized producers get bought out by large companies, local stores close and are replaced by corporations, and rural places lose their uniqueness and their power. Everything is being further and further consolidated, and we need to challenge this pattern in order to have thriving rural communities once again. Supporting SLPA is about supporting rural vitality,” shared Rachel Saum, Polk’s Folly Farm Butcher Shop & Farm Stand.
The following organizations endorse the Strengthening Local Processing Act:
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Farmers Union, The Association of American Meat Processors, The Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network, the US Cattlemen’s Association, the American Grassfed Association, The National Bison Association, and the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net
Categories: Press Releases, Sustainable Livestock