Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced he has co-sponsored the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act. This legislation would provide grants to meat processors to make improvements necessary to expand their markets. In addition to Bennet, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
Currently, meat processing facilities can only make sales across state lines if they are federally inspected. Facilities that are state inspected can only sell their products within the state they are located, and custom-exempt processors can only process livestock for the exclusive use of the livestock owner. This legislation would provide grants to meat processing plants for planning activities, facility upgrades, and other necessary improvements to meet the standards necessary for federal inspections, expanding their market opportunities and encouraging interstate commerce.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and processors hard,” said Bennet. “Small local and regional meat processors stepped up during the pandemic and have an important role to play in the future of our agricultural economy. However, they often face challenges with federal inspection requirements that limit their access to new markets and customers. The RAMP-UP Act would help processors meet those standards, expanding options for producers to get their product to market and strengthening our food supply chain.”
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representative Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.
In May, Bennet introduced the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act to support small meat processors that are operating longer hours during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to keep our supply chain moving. That same month, he urged the administration to ensure the safety of workers in meat processing facilities. In August, Bennet called on the USDA and Department of Labor Inspector Generals to look into federal actions that may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in meat processing and other agricultural facilities.The bill text is available HERE.