What’s the Federal Government’s Beef with State Meat Processing Rules? New at Reason

SteakLocally raised meats might soon also be regularly slaughtered and sold locally, under a bipartisan bill now winding its way through Congress. The PRIME Act, first introduced two years ago, would allow each state to set its own rules for slaughtering cattle, pigs, and most other livestock and processing their meat, so long as that meat is sold only within the state's borders.

States have been prohibited from setting their own inspection rules since Congress passed the Wholesome Meat Act 50 years ago. Under current law, meat processed via "custom slaughter"—at independent slaughter facilities not subject to USDA rules—may not be sold commercially.

Consolidation in the wake of the law has resulted in fewer and fewer slaughter facilities, a problem food policy expert Baylen Linnekin detailed at length in his recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. That's meant fewer choices for small farmers and consumers alike. He explains further.

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