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Consumer Reports endorses RAMP-UP Act to help minimize disruptions of meat and poultry supply during COVID-19 crisis

Representative Peterson’s bill provides matching grants to small processing plants to expand capacity while maintaining critical food safety standards 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports announced its support today for a bill introduced by Representative Colin Peterson that aims to reduce disruptions in the food supply triggered by recent COVID-19 outbreaks at meat and poultry processing plants.  The Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act authorizes a matching grant program at USDA to enable small processing plants to expand capacity while meeting federal inspection standards.

“Small processing plants can play a role in minimizing food supply disruptions, but we need to make sure that they abide by strong food safety standards,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports.  “The RAMP-UP Act will help small establishments attain federal inspection status without sacrificing critical food safety standards needed to protect the public.  Consumer Reports commends Chairman Peterson for his work in maintaining public health protections while expanding opportunities for small meat and poultry producers.”

The RAMP-UP Act authorizes USDA to make 1:1 matching grants of up to $100,000 to existing custom exempt and state inspected meat and poultry processing facilities. The grants may be used for planning and making any required capital improvements associated with attaining Federal inspection.

Given the current disruption in meat and poultry supply chains, the bill waives the matching funds requirement for FY20 and FY21. A total of $80 million in mandatory money is provided for the remainder of 2020 through 2023 and an additional $20 million/year in discretionary funding is authorized should more funds be necessary. The program is authorized through 2023 to match up with consideration of the Farm Bill in Congress.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537