PORTLAND (AP) — U.S. Sens. Angus King and Rand Paul want to ease restrictions on small farms and ranches so they can more easily provide locally produced meat to consumers.

King, a Maine Independent, and Paul, a Kentucky Republican, are introducing legislation to give states the ability to allow intrastate distribution of custom-slaughtered meat.

Current restrictions say custom slaughter of animals is exempt from federal inspection regulations only if it is slaughtered for personal, household or employee use.

Farmers must send their animals to state- or federally-inspected slaughterhouses if they want to sell individual cuts of locally-raised meat. The senators say those slaughterhouses are sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Reps. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, and Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, brought similar legislation to the House of Representatives last year.

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