Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN-07) have introduced the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UPAct.

The RAMP-UP Act would establish a program to make facility upgrades and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to Federal Inspection and be able to sell their products across state lines. The legislation would also require the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

“Right now, America’s meat producers and processors are facing unprecedented market challenges. At a time when producers are experiencing increased demand for high-quality meat, meat processors across the United States are racing to increase their capacity to meet the demands of consumers and producers,” said Congressman Lucas. “The RAMP-UP Act gives processors the tools to become federally inspected facilities, which widens their customer base while maintaining strong inspection standards. I’m proud to join my friend and Agriculture Committee Chairman, Congressman Collin Peterson in expanding the opportunities for not only Oklahoma’s processing facilities but meat processors across the United States.”

“We have seen the importance of having meat and poultry processors of all sizes in Minnesota and across the country over the past few months,” said Chairman Peterson. “The RAMP-UP Act will provide grants to help these rural small businesses meet that demand, wherever their customers live.”

Original cosponsors to the RAMP-UP Act also include U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Chellie Pingree of Maine, G.T. Thompson of Pennsylvania, Jim Costa of California, David Rouzer of North Carolina, Angie Craig of Minnesota and Robert Aderholt of Alabama.

“This legislation reduces the burdens associated with attaining Federal inspection without jeopardizing food safety standards,” said Rep. Bishop. “This will assist smaller processing facilities in obtaining a larger commercial presence while helping meet consumer demand, which has been recently impacted by COVID-19.”

"I am pleased to help lead the RAMP-UP Act, an exciting bill that helps smaller meat processors upgrade their plants and ship product interstate,” said Rep. Fortenberry. “This is a localized solution that helps diversify the meatpacking industry to create a public good."

“During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen how disruptions in just a few meat and poultry facilities can create ripple effects throughout the entire supply chain. We must shift towards a more diversified and resilient processing model,” said Rep. Pingree. “The RAMP-UP Act would help defray the costs of attaining federal inspection for meat and poultry processing facilities, which will give local producers more options to get food to their customers. I’m proud to join as an original cosponsor of this legislation that will help get local foods on our constituents’ plates.”

“COVID-19 has shed light on the incredible importance of a strong food supply chain,” said Rep. Thompson. “The RAMP-UP Act will ease the strain on our meat and poultry industry by cutting red tape for processors and get food on the tables of every American family more quickly.”

“The RAMP-UP Act represents important investment in the resiliency of our food system, by helping processors of all sizes to participate in Federal inspection and meet the full range of consumer demand, wherever it may be,” said Rep. Costa. “It will help to ensure grocery stores stay stocked with meat and poultry products, and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, I am happy to cosponsor this bill.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to strengthen our food supply chains to prevent disruptions in moving product to the marketplace,” said Rep. Rouzer. “This bill would help small processors increase their capacity and thereby provide more options for livestock producers to get their product to market.  This is a worthy bipartisan effort that will benefit agriculture and the consumer."

“Amidst disruptions in the food supply chain due to COVID-19, our farmers and local processors have continued to innovate to get safe food on the table for millions of Americans,” said Rep. Craig. “By continuing to support our local meat processors, we are safeguarding our food supply and stimulating rural economies. I am proud to work with Chairman Peterson on this critical legislation.”

“Disruptions to meat processing this spring showed that our current system needs greater flexibility. I am an original cosponsor of this legislation because increased competition and capacity in the meat processing sector is good for farmers and the American consumer,” said Rep. Aderholt. “The Ramp Up Act will help address the current backlog of livestock and build a stronger industry for the future.”

The RAMP-UP Act has the added support of a broad range of livestock, farm and agricultural associations.

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Source: Office of Congressman Frank Lucas