Jul 09 2021
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be reducing inspection overtime fees for small and very small meatpackers by implementing U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Michael Bennet’s (D-Colo.) legislation, the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief for COVID-19 Act, to support small meatpacking plants that were operating longer hours during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to process a high number of livestock to meet increased consumer demand for locally-grown meat 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.”
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) charges meatpacking plants a fee for overtime and holiday hours paid to food inspectors. This program will provide $100 million in funding to FSIS to reduce fees charged to small meatpacking plants when they request overtime and holiday inspection services. USDA FSIS inspectors will continue to be fully compensated for any overtime hours they work.
Meatpacking plants with fewer than 10 employees will be required to pay 25 percent of overtime and holiday fees and FSIS would pay the remaining 75 percent. Plants with 10-500 employees will be required to pay 70 percent of overtime fees with FSIS paying the remaining 30 percent.
The overtime fee reduction will be applied retroactively to October 11, 2020 to help cover costs incurred during the pandemic. FSIS has developed an Overtime/Holiday Rate Reduction form that official establishments will need to submit to request an overtime or holiday inspection fee reduction. FSIS will review the form to determine whether an establishment qualifies for the fee reduction.
In March, Sens. Moran and Bennet joined U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.) to urge Secretary Vilsack to prioritize implementing this legislation which passed as part of the American Rescue Plan.
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