NAMI, NCBA oppose PRIME Act
May 1, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today again announced its opposition to the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, or the PRIME Act, for the risk it poses to food safety.
“American consumers rely on rigorous USDA inspection to ensure the safety and quality of their meat and poultry,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “Allowing meat to enter commerce without inspection – and without alerting consumers they are buying uninspected meat -- jeopardizes food safety and will undermine consumer confidence in all meat products.”
The PRIME Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Thomas Massie (R- Ky.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have introduced the same bill in the Senate.
The PRIME Act would amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act to allow custom slaughter facilities to sell uninspected meat directly to consumers, to restaurants and food service, and at retail.
Under The Federal Meat Inspection Act, custom slaughter facilities harvest livestock for the personal use of the owner of the animal. The food produced may not enter commerce. There is no continuous inspection and no veterinarian required to assess the health of the livestock.
Federally inspected facilities, and state inspected facilities with cooperative agreements with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), have inspectors continuously conducting oversight of operations to ensure the safety and quality of meat and poultry and the health and wellness of the livestock. Should a problem occur, products bearing the mark of USDA inspection can be traced to protect consumers.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has also voiced their opposition.
“NCBA is in favor of reducing regulatory burdens, but not at the expense of food safety,” said NCBA President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer. “While the PRIME Act is well intentioned, allowing uninspected beef to enter the retail market is dangerous to consumers.”
NCBA is supportive of federal and state meat inspection efforts and has previously supported legislation like the DIRECT Act that would allow state-inspected beef to be sold interstate in limited quantities, direct-to-consumer, and through e-commerce. Unlike the PRIME Act, these measures would create the necessary paper trail to trace and contain any potential food safety concerns.
“It is important for the American economy and the entire meat value chain that the safety of our meat and poultry is never taken for granted. The meat and poultry industry, and the taxpayer, has invested billions of dollars in food safety protections, research and infrastructure to ensure we have the safest meat in the world,” said Potts. “While this bill may be well intentioned, it poses especially unnecessary risks given the many resources available to help new and small facilities gain inspection from FSIS.”
Those resources include more than $1 billion in federal technical assistance and financial assistance in the following USDA administered programs:
Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants:
Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity - Technical Assistance Program
Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program
There are more than 6,500 federally inspected facilities throughout the United States.
There were 946 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on January 1, 2023
Source: NAMI, NCBA