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Sen. Fetterman Introduces S.2792 in Collaboration with RAFI


SENATOR JOHN FETTERMAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO INCREASE FAIRNESS AND COMPETITION IN THE AWARDING OF GOVERNMENT MEAT PROCUREMENT CONTRACTS

—Endorsed by 65 Organizations, this Act Could Bolster the Operations of More than 600 Local and Regional Processing Plants—

[Pittsboro, NC  September 15, 2023] — On Tuesday, September 13, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), in close collaboration with RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA), introduced the Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act (S.2792), which will take action against runaway corporate concentration in the meatpacking industry by redirecting over $300 million in federal procurement toward local meat processors rather than multinational corporations, over a four-year period. The Act will also create new digital tools to facilitate fairer and more vibrant regional meat economies that are insulated from manipulation by dominant meatpacking corporations. 

 “It is critical for us to take on corporate consolidation and monopolies in every market, including the agricultural and livestock economies. I came to Washington to fight for a level playing field for all, and that’s what the Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act will do. We can and must support smaller farms who are playing by the rules and feeding our communities,” said Senator Fetterman. “This bill will help local livestock producers and buyers keep up with the big players and create a more equitable meat economy.”

The federal government procures meat products to feed a broad range of people including members of the armed forces, government employees, and children enrolled in school feeding programs. These procurement contracts have largely been captured by dominant corporations. As of 2022, the USDA purchased nearly half of its meat products from the largest category of meat processors, of which 25% went to just four companies (Cargill, Tyson, Smithfield, and JBS). The case of JBS is particularly egregious. After its parent company was found guilty of a multi-million dollar bribery scheme in Brazil, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack elected to continue doing business with them, claiming that a withdrawal of their contracts would limit the ability of the government to secure affordable meat products. However, contrary to the Secretary’s claims, there are more than 

600 local meat processors serving their regional meat economies across all fifty states that could be excellent sources of meat for federal procurement. (See interactive map below.)

Some progress has been made during the past two years, with USDA investing in the startup of new local processors, as well as the expansion of existing local meat processing businesses. By allocating $73 million in grants through the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program and $150 million in guaranteed lending through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program and Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan program, the USDA provided crucial investment funds to small- and medium-scale local and regional meat processors. The Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act will build on the success of these investments. By shifting procurement contracts away from large corporations to these local processors, the federal government will position itself as an “anchor customer” for these new and growing processing enterprises, better ensuring their long-term sustainability and providing much-needed demand for the meat produced by the independent farmers and ranchers that are the bedrock of regional meat economies.

“If USDA is serious about promoting fair meat economies, it should stop using the American people’s money to support multinational corporations like JBS that have shown again and again that they don’t deserve our trust, “ says Aaron Johnson, RAFI’s Challenging Corporate Power Senior Program Manager. “Instead, USDA has the opportunity to infuse rural meat economies with hundreds of millions of dollars in new demand that will support local meat processors and independent ranchers.” 

In addition to redirecting federal procurement dollars to meat processors that serve regional food systems, the Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act will invest in digital tools that will empower regional meat economies by providing easy access to federal procurement contracts for local processors (many of whom will be new to federal contracting), providing open-source product traceability tools for independent ranchers, and better facilitating price reporting and cash market exchange in regional meat economies.


More Detailed Information


Bill text

Praise for the Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act

“This innovative proposal will help link cattle farmers and ranchers to local and regional packers and further links those packers to a reliable market. This will promote competition for farmers and ranchers and better ensure the viability of smaller packers, which together will help revitalize our rural communities.” – Bill Bullard, CEO, R-CALF USA  

“Food is a big part of our national security. With beef and pork processing delays, we’re not just harming our local producers; we’re risking fresh food instability in our local communities. Let’s fix this now.”  – Marvin Frink, Briarwood Cattle Farm, LLC


The Strengthening Local Meat Economies Act has been endorsed by 65 organizations

Abattoir Associates, Inc dba Rising Spring Meat Co.  

American Economic Liberties Project

American Grassfed Association

American Sustainable Business Network 

Berkshire Agricultural Ventures

Buffalo River Watershed Alliance

Bull City Farm

Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform

Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment

Ceres Community Project

Certified Naturally Grown

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Community Farm Alliance

Dakota Resource Council

Dakota Rural Action

Dirigo Food Safety

East Denver Food Hub

Family Farm Defenders

Farm & Food Growth Fund

Farm Action Fund

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Food & Water Watch

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)

Friends of the Earth

Frontline Farming 

HEAL Food Alliance

Hudson Valley Food Systems Coalition

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Jefferson County Food Policy Council

Kansas Rural Center

Kikandwa Environmental Association

Kitchen Sync Strategies

Land Stewardship Project

Missouri Rural Crisis Center

Mitchell’s Meat Processing

National Family Farm Coalition

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

NC Cooperative Extension

North American Marine Alliance

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH)

Northeast Organic Farming Association of NJ-NOFA NJ

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Northern Plains Resource Council

Open Markets Institute

Pasa Sustainable Agriculture

Ranch Foods Direct

Rio School 

Rural & Agriculture Council of America

Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA

Rural Vermont

RVA Goats LLC

San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

Slate Foods, Inc.

Slow Food USA

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project

Supply Bulk Foods

Texas Small Farmers & Ranchers/CBO

The Center for Good Food Purchasing 

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association

Waterkeeper Alliance

Western Organization of Resource Councils

Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN)

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RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA) challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities. We envision a thriving, sustainable, and equitable food system: where farmers and farmworkers have dignity and agency; where they are supported by just agricultural policies; and where corporations and institutions are accountable to their community.  RAFI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and incorporated in 1990.

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