U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Angie Craig (D-MN) have introduced the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief COVID-19 Act to support small meatpacking plants working overtime during COVID-19. Amid large plant closures, small packing plants have extended hours to ensure the supply chain keeps moving, which comes with added costs.
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service charges meatpacking plants overtime fees for food inspectors. The Small Packer Overtime Holiday Fee Relief COVID-19 Act would reduce this fee, encouraging smaller plants to remain open.
"We need all hands on deck to work through this processing bottleneck," says Johnson. "Small processors need flexibility and that's what this bill would provide. The cattle industry is struggling, and during this pandemic, it's crucial we keep overtime costs low for our small processors and producers who rely on this capacity."
"Our small meat processers have stepped up during COVID-19 to keep our local food systems alive and food on our tables," says Craig. "As a Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I've heard from family farmers who aren't sure how they are going to make it past this global pandemic. Local meat processors have addressed the increased demand for processing amidst this pandemic. I'm proud to work with Rep. Johnson to lessen the federal burdens as they are rising to meet the current demands of our communities."
Meatpacking plants with fewer than 10 employees would be required to pay 25% of overtime and holiday fees and FSIS would pay the additional 75%. Plants with 10-500 employees would be required to pay 70% of overtime fees with FSIS paying the additional 30%.