Introduced by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Rep. Thomas Massie, the PRIME Act would make it easiers for small farmers and ranchers to serve consumers
Today, Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the PRIME (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption) Act, lending Senate support for Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree's (D-ME) bill (H.R. 3187) to make it easier for small farms and ranches to serve consumers. The bill (S. 2651) is identical to the legislation that Representatives Massie and Pingree introduced in the House of Representatives last summer. Massie and Pingree's bill now has 20 co-sponsors in the House.
"I'm thrilled to have the support of Senators King and Paul in this growing effort to open local markets to small farms and producers and give consumers the freedom to choose,” said Representative Massie, who owns 50 head of cattle and produces grass-fed beef. "Although consumers want to know where their food comes from, what it contains, and how it’s processed, federal inspection requirements make it difficult to purchase food from trusted local farmers. These onerous federal rules make it difficult for small farms and ranches to succeed financially. The introduction of companion legislation in the Senate significantly improves the prospect of moving the PRIME Act to the President's desk."
"The PRIME ACT would help lift some of the federal barriers that aren’t always necessary for small farmers who may raise a few cows to feed their families or neighbors," said Representative Pingree, who raises grass fed beef on her Maine farm. "Small farmers sometimes just don't have access to USDA inspected processors without driving hours each way. It's just not practical or economical and discourages local production of sustainable meat."
The PRIME Act would give individual states freedom to permit intrastate distribution of custom-slaughtered meat such as beef, pork, or lamb, to consumers, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and grocery stores. Current law exempts custom slaughter of animals from federal inspection regulations, but only if the meat is slaughtered for personal, household, guest, and employee use. This means that in order to sell individual cuts of locally-raised meats to consumers, farmers and ranchers must first send their animals to one of a limited number of USDA-inspected slaughterhouses. These slaughterhouses are sometimes hundreds of miles away, which adds substantial transportation costs, and also increases the chance that meat raised locally will be co-mingled with industrially-produced meat. The PRIME Act would expand the current custom exemption and allow small farms, ranches, and slaughterhouses to thrive.
The PRIME Act (H.R. 3187), which is supported by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, is part of a series of "Food & Farm Freedom" initiatives championed by Massie, including the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (H.R. 525), the Milk Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 3563), and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 3564). Rep. Pingree is the lead Democratic cosponsor on both "Milk Freedom" bills. Rep. Massie has also been a staunch advocate for country-of-origin labeling of food.
Co-sponsors of the PRIME Act include Reps Justin Amash (R-MI), Dave Brat (R-VA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), John Duncan (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), John Garamendi (D-CA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Crescent Hardy (R-NV), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Robert Wittman (R-VA).