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Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

Bill Seeks to Boost Small Scale Meat Processors Amid Meatpacking Shutdowns

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KRISTOFOR HUSTED / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA
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A new bill could give small meat processors money to become USDA-inspected facilities.

Large meatpacking plants across the country shut down after outbreaks of COVID-19 among employees, causing supply chain disruptions for farmers, ranchers, and consumers. But a new bill in the U.S. House seeks to address the problem by boosting small scale meat processors. 

The Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants Act (RAMP-UP) would give $100,000 grants to small meat processors to upgrade their facilities to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. A bipartisan group of lawmakers is sponsoring the bill, including Republicans Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Collin Peterson (D-MN). 

Scott Blubaugh, the president of the American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union, says in order for meat to be sold across state lines, it must be slaughtered in a federally-inspected facility. Blubaugh says there are only a few plants in Oklahoma that are USDA inspected right now. 

So it really limits what we can do as producers here as far as building markets outside of the state of Oklahoma,” Blubaugh said. 

Blubaugh says upgrading small plants could prevent disruption in the food system due to Black Swan events like COVID-19. 

A similar bill called the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transaction Act (DIRECT) introduced by Rep. Henry Cueller (D-TX) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) would allow meat processed at state-inspected facilities to be sold directly to consumers across state lines through e-commerce.