Lawmakers Call for USDA to Relax Regs on Small and Midsized Meat ProcessorsWed, 24 Jun 2020 05:48:30 CDT
A bipartisan group of senators have added their voices to those of several House Members as they call for USDA to modify regulations that "create impediments to a diversified meat processing industry,"as the lawmakers have communicated in a letter sent this week to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Click or tap here to read the letter from the seven Senators.
The letter, signed by U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Barrasso, (R-Wy.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Michael Enzi (R-Wy.), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), reiterated points made by Congressman Jim Jordan and other Republicans who serve on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, when they called on USDA to ease restrictions on small and mid-sized meat processing operations in early June.
"They asked you to 'consider four areas for regulatory and programmatic reform.' Those areas were Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plans, Meat Label Submission and Approval Process, Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Overtime Requirements. We echo their sentiments and ask for your swift action," the senators wrote.
The senators said that 80% of the beef market is controlled by four processing companies and "this oligopolistic market structure has exhibited its weakness during COVID-19," noting that processing plant shutdowns and slowdowns due to worker infection outbreaks significantly affected the supply chain, from ranchers to consumers.
"These pitfalls can be avoided in the future if we take action today to promote a diversified food supply chain," the senators added. "Regulations must be streamlined to remove barriers impeding small and medium-sized meat processors. Executive Order 13924 is an appropriate venue to address these problems and we encourage you to do so."
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