WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee member, joined Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in reintroducing the Strengthening Local Processing Act, bipartisan legislation to provide much-needed federal support to America’s small meat and poultry processors and help strengthen and streamline their operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated why we need to strengthen America’s food supply chain,” said Senator Cramer. “North Dakota’s ranchers work hard to raise the highest-quality livestock on the market. Our legislation would assist them by creating a more competitive and diversified processing industry, ensuring they can continue feeding the nation and the world.”
This bipartisan, bicameral bill would give small food processors more access to information that is critical to food safety planning, lower the barrier to entry for small meat processing plants, and establish training, education, and technical assistance grants for meat processing trades, such as small plant operators and butchers.
Members of North Dakota’s agricultural community voiced their support for the bill.
"The past year highlighted the importance of our local meat processing industry. We thank Senator Cramer for his support of this act, which would strengthen local processing capacity, boost access to processing for local cattle producers and increase product to the consumer,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Strengthening the industry will add value locally and improve local economies.”
“Cattlemen and consumers alike benefit when there are plentiful meat processing options available,” said President of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Jeff Schafer. “We all felt the crunch during the heart of the COVID pandemic when some of those options were limited or not available and we couldn’t get beef into the hands of consumers who wanted it. The Strengthening Local Processing Act will aid in diversifying the processing options available by providing critical support and resources to small and regional processors to help them expand their infrastructure and market, meet inspection guidelines and train employees. And that’s good for everyone.”
Senators Cramer, Thune, and Merkley are joined on this bill by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (D-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Bob Casey (D-PA). Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) joined the bill in the House of Representatives.