October 4, 2023
U.S. Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., have introduced legislation to increase competition and capacity in the meat processing and rendering industries. The Butcher Block Act would create grant and loan opportunities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enable small and mid-sized meat and rendering facilities to expand their operations. U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson, R-N.D., and Abigail Spanberger, D-Va. introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“High prices don’t just drive up price tags at the grocery store, but also result in higher input costs for ranchers and meat processors,” said Sen. Moran. “Providing resources to allow smaller processors to upgrade and expand their operations will make it easier for ranchers to bring their cattle to market. This legislation will help eliminate waste, support small businesses and provide consumers with more affordable options at the grocery store.”
Sen. Bennet said the bipartisan legislation will strengthen local food systems, increase competition and help lower prices for Americans."
Specifically, the Butcher Block Act would:
Improve competition and capacity in rural areas by authorizing USDA loans and loan guarantees to increase and modernize small and medium meat processing and rendering facilities.
Including eligibility for cooperatives that are producer-owned and eligible for refinancing
Creates a new USDA grant program to expand, diversify, and increase resilience in meat processing and rendering facilities by:
Helping facilities receive technical assistance to manage and train a new workforce.
Helping small and medium-sized facilities achieve compliance with state and federal regulations.
Developing new innovative or mobile facilities to improve local and regional access to processing and rendering services.
“I applaud Sen. Jerry Moran’s leadership to increase meat processing capacity,” said Joe Newland, Kansas Farm Bureau President. “This legislation will help increasing competition, strengthen the meat supply chain and create new markets for producers.”
The North American Renderers Association welcomed introduction of the legislation.
Kent Swisher, president and CEO of North American Renderers Association, commented: “While Congress and the Administration have previously provided funding and support for the expansion of our country’s meat and poultry processing capacity, this bill is the first of its kind that acknowledges the critical role of rendering as the safe and sustainable method of upcycling the parts of the animal and birds that are not consumed by humans. We thank Senators Moran and Bennet for recognizing that expanding meat processing capacity in the U.S. also requires expanding our country’s rendering capacity in order to safely and hygienically process the meat we don’t eat, reducing food waste, so it doesn’t end up in our landfills and waterways.”
Justin Tupper, president of U.S. Cattlemen’ Association, said the legislation would give USDA the tools they need to diversify and increase resilience in the U.S. food supply system. “Those tools include awarding loans and loan guarantees to eligible entities, along with incentivizing new, innovative, or mobile enterprises to increase or improve local and regional meat processing and rendering.”
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