Seminars to promote new slaughter options for Washington meat producers

Aug 7, 2009
by WLJ
Seminars to promote new slaughter options for Washington meat producers

Consumers’ cravings for local food products doesn’t stop with tomatoes and berries from the farmers´ market. Washington’s ranchers continue to enjoy growing demand for locally grown steaks, chops and roasts.

The challenge lies in the lack of cost-effective local slaughter options that meet federal food safety requirements. While a new mobile slaughter grower cooperative recently came online in the South Puget Sound region, ranchers in other areas must haul animals long distances for USDAinspected slaughter. Under federal law, only meat from animals slaughtered in USDA-inspected facilities may be sold in retail or wholesale markets.

To help business owners and livestock producers understand the process for launching a new slaughter operation, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will conduct two free workshops on federal inspection requirements. The Washington and Oregon departments of agriculture are co-sponsoring the training.

“Both Washington and Oregon are working with USDA to help our producers and processors benefit from rising demand for locally grown meat,” said Jerry Buendel, Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) assistant director for Food Safety and Consumer Services. “By having USDA inspection, our ranchers can market their products at the corner store, the local farmers´ market, or in grocery stores all across the country.”

At the seminars, USDA will discuss the application process, roles of the USDA district offices, and regulatory requirements.

Participants will learn USDA’s rules for the slaughter facility, equipment, labels and brands, water, waste and food safety. Information on USDA loan programs and a list of local government and business contacts will be presented.

The full-day workshops will be held in Portland, OR, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel and on Thursday, Aug. 27, in Richland, WA, at the Shilo Inn. While there is no cost to attend the seminar, participants will be responsible for their own meals and lodging.

Participants must register for the event by Aug. 24 with WSDA’s Food Safety Program by contacting Shari Elliff at (360) 902-1967 or e-mail at USDA meat inspection services are provided free of charge in all federally approved slaughter facilities. While several states do have meat inspection programs, Washington and Oregon do not. Under federal law, all state meat inspection programs must meet the same standards as federal inspections.

WSDA licenses and inspects custom slaughter operations and similar businesses that provide meat processing for the personal consumption of animal owners and hunters. Custom slaughter operations may be good candidates for upgrade and conversion to fixed-location, USDA-inspected slaughter facilities. — WLJ