Farm bureau backing two bills to help small meat and poultry plants


Here we are steaming towards the end of summer. Except for the heat it really hasn’t felt like summer. All the “shelter-in-place” took the fun out of the season. I guess I’ll just call this the lost summer of Ron. Of course, you can put anyone’s name in there and it would be appropriate.
For months now we continue to read about all of the effects this virus has had on everything from barbershops to farmers. One thing about it – it doesn’t discriminate.
Early on when meat processors were shutting down because of the toll the virus took on its workforce livestock were backing up on farms with no place to go. The system wasn’t broke, but it needed some repair. Today we are somewhat back to normal, but who knows what tomorrow, or the virus, will bring.
Because of this glitch in the food system farm bureau became involved in trying to find a fix. This didn’t require a wrench set and hammer, it required negotiation and examination. And with that we finally have something moving that may bear fruition.
Farm bureau is backing two recently introduced bills that would help more small meat and poultry plants sell their products in other states and better meet nationwide demand for beef, chicken and turkey.
Introduced on July 2, the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act would establish a program to make facility upgrade and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to federal inspection, which will allow them to sell their products across state lines. The legislation would also require USDA to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.
As Congress looks at ways to make our food system more resilient for farmers and ranchers and for consumers, the American Farm Bureau Federation appreciates Chairman Peterson and Representatives Lucas and Fortenberry and others for introducing this bill to increase meat and poultry processing capacity. At the same time as this bill will help more processing facilities attain federal inspection status and ensure producers have a market for their poultry and livestock, it also ensures the safety and abundance of the food supply.
Also in the House, the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act (H.R. 7425) would allow state inspected meat to be sold across state lines, but only through e-commerce. The bill would allow small producers and processors an additional option to directly market to consumers.
Specifically, the bill would amend the retail exemption under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 pounds of beef, 100 pounds of pork, 27.5 pounds of lamb) of state inspected meat online to consumers across state lines.
The legislation would also maintain traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall; allow retail sales to consumers, minimizing the risk for further processing in export and keeping equivalency agreements with trading partners intact; and allow states operating under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping system to ship and label as they are currently.
 Small, state inspected processors have filled the void for many producers this year when larger plants shut down. The DIRECT Act would allow state inspected plants to sell their product direct to consumers across state lines. This presents a new opportunity for producers to reach consumers directly through online sales. Consumers wishing to directly order a steak from any State would be able to do just that.
The DIRECT Act was sponsored by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
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Last month we lost a true talent in Charlie Daniels. I can say I’ve listened joyfully to the old southerner belt out some great tunes. So here’s to you Charlie…
“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”
“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”
“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”
“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

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