Proposed bill would remove regulatory barrier to financing processing facilities

A bipartisan bill that could help increase competition in livestock markets has been introduced into the U.S. House.

Chelsea Good with the Livestock Marketing Association says additional slaughter capacity is needed and the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the US (A-PLUS) Act will help spur expansion.  “There’s a current regulatory barrier that keeps livestock auction owners from being able to own or invest in a packing facility,” she says.  “So what this bill would do is it would fix that antiquated rule and it would allow a livestock auction owner to own or invest in a packing facility so long as it’s below a certain size.”

The bill would allow livestock auction owners to own or invest in a meatpacking entity with a cumulative slaughter capacity of fewer than 2,000 animals per day or 700,000 per year.

She tells Brownfield it also impacts local meat marketing businesses. “The definition of packer is so broad under the Packers and Stockyards Act, we’ve actually experienced a local livestock auction that wasn’t slaughtering any animals themselves, they were getting them custom harvested and even that activity fall within the current rules,” she says.  “It really is time to modernize this to add some processing capacity, some additional investment, some competition, and to provide people the opportunity to have some resilient supply chains and some local food options if that is something people are wanting.”

The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri (R) and Representative Jimmy Panetta of California (D).  Good says Representatives Randy Feenstra of Iowa (R) and Dusty Johnson of South Dakota (R) have also requested to co-sponsor the bill. 

Both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the US Cattlemen’s Association support the bill. 

USCA president Brooke Miller says there shouldn’t be an outdated regulation holding back livestock auctions from investing in local processing facilities to increase processing capacity for producers in their area and they appreciate Representatives Panetta and Hartzler, and the Livestock Marketing Association for working to advance the commonsense regulatory fix.

AUDIO: Chelsea Good, LMA

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