Increased regulatory costs included in a preliminary draft guidance document issued by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service would place small and independent meat processors at significant economic risk. That's the assessment of the American Farm Bureau Federation of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems Validation proposal. In a letter to FSIS, the group says local meat processors offer farmers and ranchers opportunities to create specialty and value-added products marketed through niche outlets. Farm Bureau goes on to say the loss of these establishments would be devastating to its livestock-producing members.
Farm Bureau has received hundreds of concerns from small, independent meat processors over the last three months pointing out the damaging economic consequences of the proposal. The letter states it is critical to maintain vital processing capacity in rural areas and urged FSIS to ensure the new process accommodates concerns about exorbitant new expenses. The letter cautions flexibility in addressing the regulatory requirements and costs may make the difference between a plant remaining in operation or being forced out of business in many cases.