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Where's the Local Beef?

Where's the Local Beef?

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Local beef. Sustainable sausage. They’re what a growing number of people want for dinner. Across the country, demand is increasing for meat from cattle, sheep and other animals raised on the pastures of local and regional farms and ranches. But satisfying this burgeoning demand is no easy task. Decades of agribusiness and economic trends tilted toward centralizing animal agriculture in industrial factory settings have hollowed out the infrastructure needed to produce and market meat close to population centers. The long, slow demise of local small slaughter and processing operations is now preventing farmers and ranchers from fully satisfying rising consumer demand for meat from sustainably raised livestock. A rebirth of small slaughterhouses would breathe new life into small communities everywhere, give farmers and ranchers more options for processing their sustainably raised livestock and satisfy growing consumer demand for healthy meat products. This report documents changes in the slaughter and processing industry across the country, identifies the reasons for the disappearance of the small plants, presents examples of next generation processors and suggests policy changes necessary for rebuilding this sector of the meat industry.
Local beef. Sustainable sausage. They’re what a growing number of people want for dinner. Across the country, demand is increasing for meat from cattle, sheep and other animals raised on the pastures of local and regional farms and ranches. But satisfying this burgeoning demand is no easy task. Decades of agribusiness and economic trends tilted toward centralizing animal agriculture in industrial factory settings have hollowed out the infrastructure needed to produce and market meat close to population centers. The long, slow demise of local small slaughter and processing operations is now preventing farmers and ranchers from fully satisfying rising consumer demand for meat from sustainably raised livestock. A rebirth of small slaughterhouses would breathe new life into small communities everywhere, give farmers and ranchers more options for processing their sustainably raised livestock and satisfy growing consumer demand for healthy meat products. This report documents changes in the slaughter and processing industry across the country, identifies the reasons for the disappearance of the small plants, presents examples of next generation processors and suggests policy changes necessary for rebuilding this sector of the meat industry.

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Published by: Food and Water Watch on Jun 24, 2009
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Where’s
 the Local
Beef?
RebuildingSmall-ScaleMeat ProcessingInfrastructure
 
 About Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challengethe corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transformingthe public consciousness about what we eat and drink. Food & Water Watch works with grassroots organizations aroundthe world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Through research, public and policymaker educa-tion, media and lobbying, we advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food produced in a humane and sustainablemanner, and public, rather than private, control of water resources including oceans, rivers and groundwater.
Food & Water Watch
 Main office:
1616 P St. NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036tel: (202) 683-2500fax: (202) 683-2501info@fwwatch.org www.foodandwaterwatch.orgCopyright © June 2009 by Food & Water Watch. All rights reserved. This report can be viewed or downloaded at www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
California Office:
25 Stillman Street, Suite 200San Francisco, CA 94107tel: (415) 293-9900fax: (415) 293-9908california@fwwatch.org
 
Executive Summary....................................................................................................................................................................iv Part I: Small Meat Plants Follow Trends in Agriculture.............................................................................................................1Effects of Consolidation.................................................................................................................................................2Charting the Demise of Small Plants............................................................................................................................3Federal Versus State Inspection...................................................................................................................................4Poultry.........................................................................................................................................................................................4States with Meat and/or Poultry Inspection Programs.............................................................................................4Why Are Facilities Closing?...........................................................................................................................................5USDA’s
 E. coli
Testing Program....................................................................................................................................7Case Study: Midwest.......................................................................................................................................................9Why Can’t New Firms Enter the Market?...................................................................................................................12Case Study: California...................................................................................................................................................14Part II: Rebuilding Small-Scale Meat Processing.......................................................................................................................18New Facility Feasibility................................................................................................................................................18Traditional Facilities.....................................................................................................................................................18Next Generation Facilities.............................................................................................................................................19Mobile Facilities...........................................................................................................................................................20Viable Mobile Processors............................................................................................................................................21Roles for Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations.................................................................................21Steps to Take to Start a Facility.....................................................................................................................................24Case Study: New York....................................................................................................................................................26Case Study: Vermont.....................................................................................................................................................32Conclusion and Recommendations...........................................................................................................................................32 Appendix A: The Impact of HACCP on Small Plants...................................................................................................................37 Appendix B: USDA’s E. coli Policy.............................................................................................................................................44 Appendix C: Rendering...............................................................................................................................................................51 Appendix D: Resources...............................................................................................................................................................55Endnotes..........................................................................................................................................................56
Where’s the Local Beef?
Rebuilding Small-Scale Meat Processing Infrastructure

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