If you are like 96% of the American population, you enjoy eating meat. Whether it’s steak, hamburger, pork, fish, or chicken, we consume on average, about eight ounces of meat per day; more than twice the global average.
But before we can eat that meat it needs to be processed; that is killed, cut up, packaged, and distributed.
And a good percentage of that meat that we enjoy eating is processed by small and independent meat processers located in the United States. However new regulation is threatening to put many of these smaller processers out of business.
Small and independent meat processors are at significant economic risk due to increased regulatory costs included in a preliminary draft guidance document issued by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. That document spells out new and costly requirements for local meat processors under the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems Validation proposal.
The American Farm Bureau Federation recently issued a letter stating that many of its members who raise livestock, “rely on small and independent meat processors” to process meat they raise for their own consumption. In addition, local meat processors offer farmers and ranchers “opportunities to create specialty and value-added products marketed through niche outlets.”
“(Local meat processing) facilities are most at risk from increased costs due to (new validation costs for) multiple species and multiple products, with a relatively low volume over which to spread those costs,” AFBF’s letter stated. “The loss of small and very small establishments would be devastating to our livestock-producing members.”
These increased costs can be quite substantial, ranging from $65,000 to approximately $640,000 per year per meat processor. It’s no wonder that these processors are worried.
And it will impact you and me. Nearly all of the direct-market meat you find on Fill Your Plate is processed by the small, independent meat processors. If these small processors close due to increased costs, your access to these small producers can potentially go away. It’s another choice that can potentially be taken away from you.
Small and independent meat processors provide many of the high quality, specialty meats that consumers enjoy, including grass fed, hormone free, and free-range meats. They’re part of your local community and help keeps dollars in the community.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and Arizona Farm Bureau are keeping close tabs on this developing issue. We’ll keep you informed as details unfold.