BISMARCK, N.D. - The pandemic has caused meat shortages as processing facilities struggle to keep up with distribution to stores.
Lawmakers have introduced the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, or PRIME Act, with hopes to make it easier for smaller farmers and ranchers to provide local meat to local consumers.
Custom slaughterhouses are exempt from federal inspection regulations if the meat they process is for personal consumption.
The PRIME Act would extend this exemption to the sale of products directly to consumers, restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and other establishments who need it.
“It would mean a change to every state law that exists out there. And there would have to be rules and guidance written to make sure that custom exempt facilities that wanted to be, could be retail facilities,” said ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
Goehring said the act would not only allow butcher shops and similar facilities to buy the animal from producers, but to process it and sell it in a retail fashion.
The bill is still in the beginning stages and would need to go to committee before the Senate or the House of Representatives.