The New York Times reports that although demand for locally grown meat is increasing, the shrinking number of slaughterhouses is creating a bottleneck.
In what could be a major setback for America’s local-food movement, championed by so-called locavores, independent farmers around the country say they are forced to make slaughter appointments before animals are born and to drive hundreds of miles to facilities, adding to their costs and causing stress to livestock.
As a result, they are scaling back on plans to expand their farms because local processors cannot handle any more animals.
Why the reduction?
Mr. Quenneville said a number of small, family-owned slaughterhouses started closing when strict federal rules regarding health control went into effect in 1999. Large corporations like Cargill also began to take over much of the nation’s meat market.
One solution: mobile units.
The mobile unit goes from farm to farm with a U.S.D.A.-approved butcher and inspector aboard. It contains heaters, potable water and dumps wastewater at RV stations.
Another solution: reduce the regulations and let small farmers butcher their own meat. Of course, not all want to do this, but if a small farmer wants to butcher a few steers in his barn and sell the meat to neighbors or local restaurants, why should the USDA get in the way? A farmer has incentive to give his neighbors a good product, and people should be free to buy meat they judge to be the best. If that meat happens to come from the farm down the road, so much the better.
H/T Darrel Cox