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Action Alert: Keep the Pressure On to Pass the PRIME Act

Chrys Ostrander

In just two weeks, the PRIME Act has gained 20 new co-sponsors in the House and Senate! Combined, there are 46 sponsors and co-sponsors, including members from both parties and 24 states.

The PRIME Act repeals the federal ban on the sale of meat from custom slaughterhouses, allowing flexibility for states to permit producers to sell meat processed at a custom slaughterhouse within the state.

The disruptions in supply chains, the outbreaks of COVID in meatpacking plants, and the looming meat shortages have opened many people’s eyes to the problems and fragility of the conventional meat system! It’s time to remove some of the unnecessary restrictions on small-scale, local processors so that we can develop a more resilient local food system.

Please call your U.S. legislators and urge them to sign on to the PRIME Act, H.R. 2859 and S. 1620.  

Even if you have called before, please call again! It’s vital to keep the pressure up as Congress considers measures to address the problems in our food system during the COVID outbreak.

Please help get this Act passed so we can start building a more resilient food system in this country!


Call your U.S. Representative and Senators and urge them to sign on to H.R. 2859 and S. 1620.  You can get contact info for who represents you here, or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Below is a sample message for your call or email. Use this sample message only as a starting point – put the ideas into your own words and focus on why this is important to you. Personalized messages are the best way to convince legislators!

As a constituent, I urge Representative ____ to co-sponsor H.R. 2859, the PRIME Act. [OR: I urge Senator ___ to co-sponsor S.1620, the PRIME Act.]

As Americans face potential meat shortages due to the closing of massive meatpackers, it is more important than ever to revitalize our local food production and processing. The PRIME Act opens up options for small livestock farms and ranches by removing the federal ban on the sale of meat from custom slaughterhouses within a state. These small-scale processors will remain subject to the basic federal regulations that already apply to them, as well as any additional provisions imposed by the states.

At a time when we see empty grocery store shelves, and media headlines about the failure of massive meatpacking companies to safely secure our food supply, this bill provides vital opportunities – and many long-term benefits. The PRIME Act supports local food production and small businesses, while also reducing vehicle miles traveled with livestock trailers, and helping to meet the consumer demand for locally raised meat.

Please support consumers and small farmers by co-sponsoring H.R. 2859 [or S. 1620].

City, State

If you are a livestock producer, take a few extra minutes and ask to speak to the staffer who handles agricultural issues. Briefly explain to the staffer any problems you have faced with lack of access to inspected slaughterhouses, and how the PRIME Act would help your business and benefit your customers.

If your legislators are already sponsors, thank them and ask them to push the Congressional leadership to include the bill in any COVID response bill!

House sponsors:

Senate sponsors:    

Consolidation within our meat industry has led to most meat being processed at massive plants where as many as 400 cattle are slaughtered an hour, or as many as three chickens per second. Workers in these facilities labor under very difficult and often unsafe conditions – conditions that have turned many of the facilities into COVID hotspots.

Even without the current shutdowns, small-scale livestock farmers have few places they can take their animals for processing. In some areas of the country, the nearest USDA or equivalent state facility may be several hours’ drive away or more.

There are alternatives, known as “custom slaughterhouses,” which legally operate in many states. But the meat from them can only be provided back to – and consumed by the family of – the person who owned the animal when it entered the slaughterhouse. A farmer who wants to sell his or her beef, lamb, goat, or pork to consumers at a local farmers’ market or other local outlet cannot use a custom slaughterhouse.

The PRIME Act repeals the federal ban on the sale of meat from custom slaughterhouses, allowing flexibility for states to permit producers to sell meat processed at a custom slaughterhouse within the state. Custom slaughterhouses are, and will remain, subject to federal regulations, as well as state regulations, but not the requirements for an on-site inspector or extensive paperwork in the form of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Plan.

These facilities are typically very small with few employees, meaning they are better able to provide necessary social distancing and sanitation measures while safely continuing operations. Passage of the PRIME Act would provide immediate relief for small farmers who are currently unable to find options for processing their animals and help build more infrastructure for local food production, resulting in a more resilient food system.

May 2020