Today SDSGA Executive Director James Halverson was invited to participate in a conversation with several Key USDA officials and White House Staff. Liz Archuleta, USDA Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs hosted the call along with Mae Wu, Deptuty Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and Will McIntee Associate Director of Public Engangment for the White House.
The Biden Administration is seeking input on their announcement to invest $500 million of American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity so that farmers, ranchers, and consumers have more choices in the marketplace.
“We are emphasizing a few points to the Administration on how we’d like to see these funds distributed.” Said Halverson. “First and foremost, we believe these funds must go directly to small and medium sized processors only. We believe if these folks can increase processing capacity there will be more competition for our cattle. We need to incentivize our smaller processors to expand or build new facilities.”
Utilizing funds to upgrade equipment and technology can help expand capacity as well. “When I recently toured a processing facility the owner explained how his new equipment to cure and smoke bacon reduced the process from over a week down to a day, and the results tasted great! I’ve also seen new grinding equipment that is fully automated, but these guys need help investing in this type of technology.” Halverson said.
“We are also emphasizing that there needs to be investment in training and education, as well as technical assistance to help with overcoming barriers to entry. Many of our local processors cannot expand because they don’t have the workforce or the time to jump through all of the hoops that go along with building or expanding.” Halverson added
“Additionally, we continue talking about the need for inspections. Another barrier is the uncertainty of getting the USDA inspections necessary for interstate shipment of meat. We will continue to advocate for S.107 the New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act introduced by Senator Rounds and cosponsored by Senator Thune. There is no reason meat inspected by a state that “must meet or exceed USDA standards for health and sanitation” shouldn’t have the same rights and privileges that federally inspected meat has.” Halverson said.
SDSGA will provide written comments on this issue by August 30th. Please contact the SDSGA office for more information.
Public comments can be submitted at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/07/16/2021-15145/investments-and-opportunities-for-meat-and-poultry-processing-infrastructure