Let’s be taboo and talk a little politics, shall we? After all, no one impacts our food industry more than Uncle Sam. I’ll get a little more specific.
There is a piece of legislation making its way through congress called The PRIME Act (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption). Alrighty, what the heck does all that mean? Let’s dig in.
Under current law, no matter the size of your farm, if you want to sell your meat to the general public, you have to abide by certain rules. The biggest of which is that you have to have your livestock processed in a USDA approved facility. Now, building a USDA facility isn’t the cheapest thing in the world to do, so there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of them to begin with. In turn, doing business with these facilities isn’t cheap either.
So, even if you’re a small farmer, you’ve got to go through the same route as some of your bigger competition. It is my opinion that this greatly affects the number of small farmers we have in this country (read: we need more of them). Given the land mass we have in this country, it is a colossal shame that most of our farmland has gone to the industrialists of the world. We’d be much better served having small farmers, growing a diversity of crops and livestock, from sea to shining sea, instead of the Big Agriculture monoculture we have in places like Iowa and Nebraska.
The PRIME Act, is designed to get the USDA out of the way, and allow small farmers to use custom processing shops to get their meat to market. This will cut cost for a few reasons. First off, the processing itself will be less expensive, because custom shops don’t have to jump through federal hoops to do business. Secondly, since there are so few USDA facilities, farmers sometimes have to drive several hundred miles just to get to one of these facilities. Being able to use small custom processing shops, will definitely lead to these farmers not having to drive those miles, which of course affects cost.
It’s worth noting that this only deregulates to the state level. That means we’re going to need Sacramento to understand that this is intended to encourage people to not only start small farms, but make the cost of getting their product to market less expensive. We certainly don’t want to trade in one Caesar for another.
So, if this stirs in you, I encourage you to call your congressman and tell them to get behind the PRIME Act. It is the belief of this butcher, that it will make the cost of running a small farm a little lower, and hopefully that will encourage more folks to get out there and start farming!