Solari Food Series: Time for PRIME with Congressman Thomas Massie

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“All I’m asking is make three phone calls…Call the three people you can vote for: your two Senators and your U.S. Representative, and ask them to sponsor the PRIME Act – HR 2859 and S.1620. That will give us the biggest and best chance of getting this bill on the floor or in a committee for a hearing or into the next Covid bill.” – Congressman Thomas Massie

All I am asking you to do is make three phone calls because everybody has two US Senators and one U.S. Representative. Don’t call Nancy Pelosi and don’t call Mitch McConnell unless they are your senator and congresswomen. Call the three people you can vote for – your two senators and your U.S. Representative – and ask them to sponsor this. That will give us the biggest and best chance of getting this bill on the floor or in a committee for a hearing or in the next COVID bill.

By Pete Kennedy

Officially, Congressman Tom Massie represents Kentucky’s fourth district; unofficially, he is the Congressman for the local food movement in this country. The biggest weakness by far in local food systems around the U.S. is the lack of slaughterhouses to handle the demand for locally produced meat. Representative Massie is addressing that problem by being the lead sponsor of the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, also known as the PRIME Act (H.R. 2859 / S.1620).

We now have a broken system where four meat packers control over 80% of the beef production in this country and four meat packers control 2/3 of the pork production.

Under current law, meat can only be sold if a state or federal inspector was present when the animal the meat came from was slaughtered and processed. Animals can be slaughtered and processed at custom facilities (referred to by Massie as “local processors” during the podcast) without an inspector being present, but the meat from those animals can only go to the owner(s) of the animals at the time of slaughter. Custom facilities are less expensive to build and operate than federal and state inspected slaughterhouses and also have a great track record for food safety. The PRIME Act would give States the option of passing laws allowing for the sale of custom slaughtered and processed meat in intrastate commerce, providing at least some relief from the current slaughterhouse shortage.

The logjam at slaughterhouses for small livestock farmers has gotten much worse since the onset of Covid-19. Skyrocketing demand by consumers purchasing direct from the farm has led to meat producers having to book out as far as 2022 to get their animals processed. Many livestock farmers face the prospect of going out of business unless there is an increase now in the number of available slaughterhouses to meet the growing demand for meat direct from the farm.

In the podcast, Massie talks about the development of the PRIME Act, how the meat packer oligopoly hurts both farmers and consumers, and how the lack of local slaughterhouse infrastructure is a national security issue. He also speaks about upcoming opportunities for passage of the PRIME Act and how you can help support this crucial legislation that will improve consumer access to healthy food, better enable small livestock farmers to make a living, keep more of the food dollar in the local community, and increase self-sufficiency in local food production. Please click here to read this actIon alert and act now to help HR 2859 and S.1620.

In Let’s Go to the Movies, I recommend Off the Grid with Thomas Massie, an intimate look at one man’s quest for a self-sustainable life on his farm. Currently, Congressman for a district in eastern Kentucky, Massie shares, “My philosophy is live and let live: You don’t worry about what somebody’s doing in their holler, as long as they don’t worry about what you’re doing in your holler.” This film received the highly coveted Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Anthem Film Festival.

Related Reading:

Hero of the Week: June 29, 2020 – Thomas Massie

Local Food’s Congressman Has Primary Challenge

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) – “PRIME Act Sign-On Letter to Senators”

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

The Weston A. Price Foundation