Friday, April 04, 2008

Meat Processing for Specialty Producers

This interesting information is from Marne Coit, J.D., LL.M., Agricultural Law. Marne serves as Research Fellow at the National Agricultural Law Center, University of Arkansas School of Law.

Consolidation in the meat packing industry as well as the predominance of large industrialized livestock and poultry operations have made it difficult for producers of "niche meat" products such as locally grown, certified organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free and certified humane to find meat processors for their products. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) is a new, national network which is currently forming. NMPAN's goal is to address some of the challenges facing meat processors. They are in the process of gathering information from people and/or organizations across the country. Their goal is "to strengthen and expand processing capacity, nation-wide, for niche meats," a win-win for specialty producers and interested consumers.


Blogger Dana said...

We are trying to find a USDA slaughter house and would also like to locate an organic one. We are a certified organic farm and in order to stay in bussiness we are looking at diversity...
we are in arkansas

4/08/2008 10:02 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

The small meat processor has gone by the wayside largely because of government policies that benefit larger processors. The small meat processor and lack of access to the consumer market is a barrier of entry for the big meat processors. Any time an industry can think about economics and barriers of entry, they are thinking long term about increasing their market share and decreasing the market share of others. The small producer has been a victim of this economic strategy.

USDA policies and rules have put many a small meat producer out of business. This did not happen because they were necessarily less safe than the processors of today, but because the regulations by the USDA seemed to make small meat processors have to make huge capital investments just to stay in the business.

It is really funny, that now, with the lack of small meat processors, the USDA has changed its regulatory stance and gone with the HACCP program that is much more liberal than the regulatory stance they had in the past of absolutism. The HACCP program is based on identifying points of weakness in the processing and developing plans to deal with these weaknesses. It is not the kind of commanding regulatory action that existed when there were many small meat processors.

The USDA has to stop using its regulatory power to put small meat producers out of business if we want to have more of them. With out that guarantee, there will still be a lack of them to compete with the big boys for rail space.

The outlook isn't good for small producers because of this. No capital will be invested with this big unknown and the barriers of entry will remain high in the industry. The existing large processors will continue to control the majority of the markets because they control the point between the producer (farmer) and the consumer.

Structural and management change needs to happen in the USDA before the goals of providing more processors for local farmers can be accomplished.

5/09/2008 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

7/11/2008 9:01 AM  

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