Spanberger, Johnson Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Virginia Meat & Poultry Processing, Lower Costs for Virginians

Jan 26, 2023
Agriculture
Press

The “Butcher Block Act” Would Rebalance the U.S. Cattle Market by Improving Access to Grants for Small Processors to Expand or Create New Operations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD-AL) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to increase competition in the meatpacking industry.

According to a 2021 Rabobank report, an additional daily packing capacity of 5,000 to 6,000 head of fed cattle could restore the historical balance of fed cattle supplies and packing capacity. The Butcher Block Act would help rebalance the U.S. cattle market by establishing a permanent grant and loan program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for new and expanding meat processors to drive competition within the packing industry.

In July 2021, following Spanberger and Johnson’s leadership on the Butcher Block Act, USDA announced a program aligned with the legislation, creating grants and loans to small processors. Additionally, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House voted to pass this legislation in June 2022 as part of a larger package.

“Livestock and poultry producers across Virginia bring in millions of dollars for our local economy. But market consolidation continues to pressure these vital industries,” said Spanberger. “As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I understand the need to make long-term investments in our domestic food supply. By allocating new USDA assistance for local processors to expand their operations, our bipartisan legislation would prop up the U.S. meat industry, increase market opportunity for American producers, and lower costs at the grocery store for Virginia families. I’m proud to once again lead the introduction of this legislation with Congressman Johnson, and I look forward to continuing to build bipartisan support behind keeping American cattlemen and poultry producers competitive in the global ag economy.”

“Cattle country needs solutions,” said Johnson. “The past few years have taken a toll on the livestock owners who have experienced black swan event after black swan event. The Butcher Block Act will provide increased capacity to small packers and drive healthy competition to create a more stable market.”

Specifically, the Butcher Block Act would:

  • Assist new and expanded livestock or meat processors to improve marketing options for livestock producers, further competitive markets, and facilitate value-added opportunity for livestock producers.
  • Allows for financing of cooperative stock in producer-owned processing facilities and refinancing for expanded processing capacity.
  • Establishes a Rural Development grant program at USDA for eligible entities to assist with new construction or expansion planning and compliance.

The Butcher Block Act is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

Spanberger and Johnson first introduced the bill in June 2021. Click here to read the full bill text.

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