Maine U.S. First District Rep. Chellie Pingree sits in her office on the Portland waterfront. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — A group of federal lawmakers wants to expand capacity for small meat and poultry processors.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, said the “Strengthening Local Processing Act” is designed to create more options for local livestock and poultry producers. Cosponsors of the proposal include Maine’s two senators, independent Sen. Angus King and Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

The proposal takes aim at federal laws that state farmers and ranchers need to send animals to slaughterhouses that are sometimes hundreds of miles away in order to sell individual cuts of locally raised meat. The bill would increase the federal share of costs for some inspection facilities, supporters said.

The supporters of the proposal also said it would create a series of new competitive grant programs that would strengthen smaller meat processing facilities.