Meat & Livestock News

U.S. Senators Propose Butcher Block Act to Aid Meat Processors

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Legislative Move

Senators Jerry Moran and Michael Bennet introduced a new legislative proposal, the Butcher Block Act. The initiative aims to bolster small and medium-sized meat processing facilities financially.

The funding, in the form of loans and grants, would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A corresponding bill is also under consideration in the House of Representatives.

Objectives and Implications

Moran highlighted that the elevated cost of meat is a concern that extends beyond the consumer to ranchers and meat processors.

He expressed that the bill would streamline operations for ranchers, facilitating a more efficient route to market. “The legislation is structured to minimise waste, bolster small enterprises, and provide more cost-effective consumer choices,” Moran stated.

Bennet underscored the livestock sector’s role in Colorado’s agriculture industry, which is valued at $47 billion.

He indicated that many producers face challenges in accessing local or regional processing options. “The bipartisan bill is designed to reinforce local food systems, enhance market competition, and ultimately reduce consumer prices,” Bennet elaborated.

Key Provisions

The Butcher Block Act proposes to:

  • Authorise USDA loans and guarantees to modernise and expand small and medium-sized meat processing facilities.
  • Extend loan eligibility to producer-owned cooperatives and offer refinancing options.
  • Initiate a new USDA grant programme to provide technical assistance in workforce management, regulatory compliance, and facility innovation.

Industry Reception

The legislative proposal has garnered support from various agricultural organisations. Joe Newland, President of the Kansas Farm Bureau, commended the bill for its potential to increase market competition and fortify the meat supply chain.

Jim Matheson, Executive Director of the National Bison Association, endorsed the bill, citing a growing demand for bison processing facilities. Kent Swisher, CEO of the North American Renderers Association, hailed the bill as a pioneering effort to acknowledge the role of rendering in sustainable meat processing. Justin Tupper, President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s

Association, expressed gratitude for the legislative initiative, noting it equips the USDA with the tools needed to diversify and strengthen the national food supply.