Today, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), alongside Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), introduced the Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (A-PLUS) Act, which would fix regulatory roadblocks to increasing meat processing capacity and allow livestock auction market owners to invest in small and regional packing facilities. This legislation directs the Secretary of Agriculture to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow livestock auction market owners to hold ownership in, finance, or participate in the management or operation of a meat packing entity with a cumulative slaughter capacity of less than 2,000 animals per day or 700,000 animals per year. This cap would exclude investment in the top 10 meat packers.
"As the livestock industry continues to deal with supply chain disruptions, the federal government needs to remove any unnecessary barriers that are hurting our producer's ability to compete in a global marketplace. This bipartisan legislation will remove outdated regulations from the early 1900s and better reflect the needs of our modern-day livestock producers. Allowing for livestock auction market investments in regional packing facilities will support small businesses, increase competition, and drive down costs for consumers," said Rep. Panetta.
"For decades, livestock auction markets have played by an outdated and restrictive book of rules which limited capacity and created a system where large meat packer behemoths literally and figuratively slaughtered the competition. The A-PLUS Act would even the playing field and fix these regulations for the benefit of our livestock auctions and small packers. I thank Rep. Panetta for his partnership on this legislation for our regional packing facilities," said Rep. Hartzler.
"Congress should continue to partner with the livestock industry to find creative ways to increase cattle processing capacity. The A-PLUS Act accomplishes that goal and prioritizes investment for our producers," said Rep. Johnson.
"Outdated regulations do more harm than good. Expediting the safe processing of beef and allowing livestock auction market owners to invest in small packing facilities will help lower meat prices for families and cut red tape for Iowa cattle producers. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this commonsense legislation and hope to see my colleagues on both sides of the aisle support its passage," said Rep. Feenstra.
"We greatly appreciate Congresswoman Hartzler and Congressman Panetta introducing the A-PLUS Act to reduce a regulatory barrier that currently prohibits livestock auction owners like myself from investing in much needed packing capacity expansion. This is a great bill that will spur additional capacity and especially additional packers to increase competition and improve profitability for producers," said Livestock Marketing Association President Larry Schnell.
"The need for new packing facilities has become a critical issue for the cattle industry. Huge amounts of capital are required to get new facilities up and running. Understanding the need for these new facilities, producers themselves have invested in these efforts but outdated regulations still prevent livestock markets from having ownership in packing facilities. The A-PLUS Act paves the way for the marketing segment of the cattle industry to be included as investors in these facilities, helping reduce dependence on major packers and improving the competitiveness of the live cattle market," said National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Livestock Market Council Chairman Clint Berry.
"The Packers & Stockyards Act is over one hundred years old -- it's time to modernize parts of this historic legislation that no longer make sense in the modern world. Today's livestock auctions are often family-owned and regionally based. If one of these entities wanted to invest in a local processing facility to increase processing capacity for producers in their area, there shouldn't be an outdated regulation holding them back from doing so. USCA would like to thank Representatives Hartzler and Panetta, and the Livestock Marketing Association, for working to advance this commonsense regulatory fix," said United States Cattlemen's Association President Brooke Miller.
"The cattle industry needs more packing capacity, additional packers to create competition, and local beef companies," said Jake Parnell, President of the California Livestock Auction Markets Association and Manager of Cattlemen's Livestock Market in Galt, CA. "Who better to lead these investments than people already committed to the livestock industry through marketing businesses? This bill is a great step by opening the doors up to allow this positive investment."
"California's small family ranches often struggle to bring their products to market due to a lack of meat processing infrastructure in the state. Ranchers applaud Congressman Panetta for working to address this issue by co-sponsoring the A-Plus Act, which will enhance opportunities for California ranchers to access processing facilities to provide California consumers with fresh, sustainable, locally-raised beef," said California Cattlemen's Association Executive Vice President, Billy Gatlin.