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Ranchers get help

WASHINGTON: Two new bills just introduced in Congress will help the livestock industry better serve consumers.

Lawmakers have introduced two bills in the last week that would allow the livestock industry to meet consumer demand and provide greater access to beef, pork, and poultry products. The bills, supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, would benefit farmers, consumers, and processors, according to AFBF Congressional Relations Director Scott Bennett.

"With the disruption of meatpacking capacity due to COVID-19 and the concern now around meat shortages at the grocery store, these bills provide added flexibility for direct-to-consumer meat sales. We see this as an opportunity for America’s farmers and ranchers to have an additional outlet to market their products to consumers," added Bennett.

 Bennett says the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants, or RAMP-UP Act provides grants for custom meatpackers to qualify for federal inspection and sell products across state lines.

"The grants are capped at $100,000 per facility. The bill would also require USDA to work with states to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program," said Bennett.

Bennett says the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions Act, or DIRECT Act, allows state-inspected meat to be sold across state lines through e-commerce.

"This would allow small producers and processors more options to directly market their product to consumers. The legislation allows new flexibilities without compromising food safety recall ability or jeopardizing any trade market access through the equivalency agreements that we have with various countries," said Bennett.