WASHINGTON — A bipartisan bill that would support local meat processing capacity was reintroduced in March. The Expanding Local Meat Processing Act would reduce roadblocks to increase meat processing capacity and allow livestock auction market owners to invest in local packing plants.

The legislation was introduced by Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and a companion bill was introduced by US Representatives Mark Alford (R-Mo.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).

“As negotiations for the Farm Bill progress, this bipartisan legislation will be one of my top priorities because it removes outdated regulations that hinder producers’ ability to increase livestock processing capacity,” Luján said. “This change will go a long way towards supporting local economies and livelihoods — especially those in our rural communities.”

If adopted, the legislation would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to allow auction market owners to hold ownership in the management and operations of meat plants, excluding the top 10 largest meat packers.

“Our farmers and producers are ready to fill market demands, but right now red tape stands in their way,” Ernst said. “By getting rid of burdensome regulations, this legislation offers flexibility, allowing livestock auction owners to invest in local and regional meat packers to expedite the safe processing of meat, increase industry competition, and ultimately, lower costs at the meat counter.”