- Associated Press - Monday, October 5, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A pair of lawmakers from Maine and Nebraska wants to expand processing capacity for smaller producers of meat and poultry.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska said the Strengthening Local Processing Act would help smaller facilities expand to meet demand and adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal would increase the federal share of costs for state inspection from 50% to 65% to encourage more states to operate state inspection programs, the lawmakers said.

The proposal is also designed to authorize grants for small facilities and others for activities related to coronavirus recovery, the lawmakers said.

Maine has more than 3,000 small farms that raise livestock, but processing capacity is strained, Pingree said. The state would be able to increase slaughter and processing capacity under the terms of the local processing act, she said.

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