RAMP-UP Act to Increase Meat Packing Capacity

The Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants, or RAMP-UP Act, seeks to increase the nation’s meat packing capacity.

The bill was introduced last week by Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-R) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (MN-D).

Lucas says the legislation would establish a program to make facility upgrades to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to federal inspection.

“It became quite obvious to myself, Collin Peterson and a number of my colleagues, we have to have more diversity in the meat processing industry in this county. And that’s what the RAMP-UP Act is all about. It’s one of the many pieces of the puzzle, making sure that the facilities have the ability to allow them to meet USDA inspections. State inspections are just as good as federal inspection, but if you are going to sell across state line, if you are going to sell out of the country, you need that USDA stamp.”

The legislation includes $80 million in mandatory funds plus an additional $20 million in appropriated funds. The grants, are worth up to $100,000 each.

“And there’s a one-to-one match but we waive that for the first year because we’ve got to increase and expand our packing capacity. And if they don’t in 36 months achieve federal inspection, then they’ve got to pay it back. This is our way to get more meat processing going in smaller and intermediate sized plants, give producers more places to sell, give consumers more opportunities, more places to buy from.”

Livestock groups welcomed the legislation, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which says the bill addresses supply chain issues by ensuring cattle ranchers and farmers have robust access to new markets regardless of where their livestock is processed.