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April 26, 2023
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is calling on lawmakers to oppose the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, better knowns as the PRIME Act.
The bill was reintroduced in the House this March by Reps. Thomas Massie, R- Ky., and Chellie Pingree, D- Me. A companion bill was previously brought to Senate by Sens. Angus King, I- Maine, and Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Under the current system, custom-slaughtered meats are exempt from federal inspection regulations if they are slaughtered for personal, household or employee use. All other custom slaughtered meats must be processed by a USDA-inspected slaughterhouse.
The PRIME Act would allow states to permit the intrastate distribution of custom-slaughtered meat to consumers, restaurants, grocery stores and other end users. Supporters of the bill say this would benefit meat producers, especially those located hours away from the nearest USDA-approved facility.
“A farmer in Maine shouldn’t have to drive hours to get to a USDA-inspected processing facility when other safe options are available,” Rep. Pingree says. “The bipartisan PRIME Act will make it easier for local farms to compete with big meat companies and make locally raised livestock processing more widely available. This bill will address the needs of communities in a way that supports them by allowing America’s family farms to do what they do best – feed their neighbors.”
According to NCBA, the PRIME Act threatens food safety and consumer trust in beef because animals could be distributed across state lines without being inspected at a USDA approved facility. Officials with the Association are also concerned that the PRIME Act does not have necessary paper trail requirements to trace and contain potential food safety concerns.
“NCBA is in favor of reducing regulatory burdens, but not at the expense of food safety,” Association President Todd Wilkinson says. “While the PRIME Act is well intentioned, allowing uninspected beef to enter the retail market is dangerous to consumers."
While it is unclear if PRIME Act has enough votes to pass, it has received significant bipartisan support. Original sponsors in the House include Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, Darren Soto, D-Fla., Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., Ken Buck, R-Colo., Mo Brooks, R-Ala., Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Ted Budd, R-N.C., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Chip Roy, R-Texas, Scott Perry, R-Pa., Michael Cloud, R-La., Tom McClintock, R-Calif, Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Nancy Mace, R-S.C., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Policy editor, Farm Progress
Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.
Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.
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