Monday, June 21, 2010

Agriculture Department invests in mobile slaughterhouses to support local-food movement

"The slaughtermobile, a stainless steel industrial facility on wheels, is catching on across the country, filling a desperate need in a burgeoning movement to bring people closer to their food," reports Lyndsey Layton of The Washington Post. "It is also perhaps one of the most visible symbols of a subtle transformation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, long criticized for promoting big agribusiness." (The News Tribune photo by Dean J. Koepfler)

"There is unbelievable consumer interest in local agriculture that we haven't seen in decades," Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who is overseeing the USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program, told Layton. The number of federally inspected slaughterhouses has dropped from 1,627 in 1980 to 1,051 in 2010, Layton reports, and now only four corporations slaughter 80 percent of U.S. cattle. In Wyoming, there isn't a single federal- or state- inspected slaughterhouse. USDA is hoping to promote small meat producers by "funding and approving more mobile slaughter units, staffing each one with a federal inspector, educating farmers and USDA employees about the units, and setting clear guidelines for farmers who want to build one," Layton writes.

"There are farming operations that are really big and do huge volumes of food and that's part of American agriculture and that's good," Merrigan told Layton. "But there are a lot of people who want to do alternative markets, and we want to find a way to help them find a living and stay in rural America and help those towns and villages thrive. This really is a rural development strategy." USDA approved the first mobile slaughterhouse in 2002 and has since certified eight others for large animals. Still mobile slaughterhouses face their own challenges: they are subject to the same costly federal sanitary standards as permanent facilities, they need potable water and a way to dispose of animal waste and farmers must form cooperatives to purchase and operate the units. (Read more)


Walter Jeffries said...

The mobile slaughterhouses are getting a lot of attention. They're one solution, IF you have good road access, water, septic that can handle it, sufficient electric, etc. Unfortunately many farms around here are in the mountains on back dirt roads that aren't passable by such a large trailer in the winter which is a large portion of our year. We had looked at this as a solution for our farm but came to the conclusion we needed to build our own on-farm slaughterhouse, butcher shop and smokehouse. Our current big adventure. We're two years into the process, have all of our permits, the foundation is in, forms are up and concrete walls are rising skyward. Think nano-scale and it becomes feasible for only $150,000. If you're curious, check out my post about it at Sugar Mountain Farm Butcher Shop.

Anonymous said...

"ONLY" $150,000? LOL what farmer can afford that?
Why? Because of government B.S. Bureaucracy.