USDA to implement Sen. Moran’s meatpacking legislation
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The USDA will implement legislation to reduce overtime fees for small meatpacking plants, which was led by Sen. Jerry Moran.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) says on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will reduce inspection overtime fees for small meatpackers by implementing his and Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-Colo.) legislation, the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act, to support small meatpacking plants that operated longer hours during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to process a high amount of livestock meat to increased consumer demand for locally grown products.
“Small meatpackers in Kansas and across the country have been working long hours to keep our meat supply in stock during the pandemic,” said Sen. Moran. “Unfortunately, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service charges meatpacking plants a fee for overtime hours for food inspectors, discouraging smaller packing plants from extending operating hours. I am pleased the USDA is implementing our legislation to remove cost-prohibitive barriers so our small packers can keep working, ranchers can harvest their livestock and Americans can have access to quality food.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit our food supply chain –– from producers to our essential workforce –– incredibly hard,” said Sen. Bennet. “That’s why Senator Moran and I introduced a bill to reduce burdens on small meatpackers who continue to step up and run overtime, which can expand local options for ranchers to harvest their livestock. I was glad it passed as a part of the American Rescue Plan and appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s work to implement the legislation and reduce costs for small meat, egg, and poultry processors.”
According to Sen. Moran, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service charges meatpacking plants a fee for overtime and holiday hours paid to food inspectors. He said the program will provide $100 million to FSIS to reduce fees charged to small meatpacking plants when they request overtime and holiday inspection service. He said USDA FSIS inspectors will continue to be fully compensated for any overtime and holiday hours they work.
Sen. Moran said meatpacking plants with less than 10 employees will be required to pay 25% of overtime and holiday fees and FSIS would pay the remainder. He said plants with 10-500 employees will be required to pay 70% of overtime fees with FSIS paying the remainder.
According to the Kansas Senator, the overtime fee reduction will be applied retroactively to Oct. 11, 2020, to help cover costs from the pandemic. He said FSIS has developed an Overtime/Holiday Rate Reduction form that official establishments will be required to submit to request an overtime or holiday inspection fee reduction. He said FSIS will review the form to decide whether the establishment qualifies for the reduction.
In March, Sen. Moran said he and Sen. Benet joined U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) to urge Sec. Vilsack to prioritize the implementation of the legislation, which passed as part of the American Rescue Plan.
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