Update, May 25:
► Help push the PRIME Act across the finish line! See the updated letter to Congress here. In just two weeks, the PRIME Act has gained 20 new co-sponsors in the House and Senate! Combined, there are 46 sponsors and co-sponsors, including members from both parties, two of three independents (not yet Bernie Sanders, y’all call him!) and 24 states! Remember, this federal legislation requires no government funding, just government fairness to lift unnecessary restrictions on small-scale, local processors so that we can develop a more resilient local food system, already! Call your Congressional Representatives—details here at Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
What do Angus King and Rand Paul have in common?
The dynamic duo -- Maine’s independent US Senator Angus King and Kentucky’s liberty Republican Rand Paul -- are leading the charge for the PRIME Act (H.R. 2859) to remove the unnecessary ban, supported by Big-AG, on the sale of meat from what are known as “custom” processors. These are the small-scale processors who already serve hunters and people raising meat just for themselves. Currently farmers cannot sell any meat processed by these processors. Removing that federal ban would provide more options for small farmers, enabling them to provide our local communities with more food and building vital infrastructure for a more resilient food system.
A handful of large corporations have opposed lifting the ban for the last five years. They dominate the market and have developed a system to maximize their profits at the expense of consumers, farmers, workers, animals, and the environment.
This letter sent (updated) by hundreds of non-profit organizations representing small farms and local foods to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee explains how the extreme monopolization of this industry leads to less safety, “Four companies control processing of over 80% of the country’s beef, and four companies control the processing of two thirds of the country’s pork...The consolidation has led to most meat being processed at massive plants where as many as 400 cattle are slaughtered an hour….The extensive complicated federal regulations that apply to massive meatpacking facilities are neither needed nor appropriate for these operations, which might process as much meat in an entire year as the large facilities do in a single day. Their small scale also means that they are better able to provide necessary social distancing and sanitation measures while safely continuing operations.”
The pandemic has exposed some very ugly realities about the fragility – and cruelty -- of our food system. This article in the Hill is difficult to read – but, people, we must look at this now. Our agricultural system -- in need of reform for decades -- is cracking under the pressure from this pandemic. Too bad it had to happen this way, but we’ll take it.
In addition to the unusual collaboration between Senators King and Paul, the support on the House side is striking. Representatives Massie (R-KY) and Pingree (D-ME) are the lead sponsors, and the list of 40 co-sponsors include Justin Amash (I-MI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rashid Tlaib (D-MI), Steve King (R-IA), and ), and four (so far) Texas Reps: Gohmert, Cloud, Roy and Wright. (Watch this list update.)
Please call your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge them to join this multi-partisan effort to help small farmers during both the COVID crisis and beyond! Just tell them you support the Prime Act and that its time long overdue.
LIV has long supported small farms. The pandemic has now made long-festering issues a matter of life and death concern in the rebuilding of our economies from the bottom up.
You can find more information about the bill from our friends at the non-profit, non-partisan Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/prime-act-finish-line