MISA hosted the “All About Selling Meat Workshop” on January 12, 2012 in St. Cloud. This was part of a day of workshops before the Minnesota Organic Conference. More than 90 farmers and others attended, and heard a great variety of information about meat marketing, processing, packaging, and regulations.
Dr. Ryan Cox from the University of Minnesota’s Meat Science program provided a wealth of information about meat processing and packaging, as well as animal handling practices for best meat quality. Read more about the U of MN Meat Science program and educational offerings available to farmers and processors: www.extension.umn.edu/MeatScience/.
Ryan's presentation: Meat Processing Considerations (PDF, 2.1 Mb)
Wayne Martin, the University of Minnesota Extension Alternative Livestock Specialist, presented an overview of meat marketing concepts:
Marketing Overview: Direct Marketing of Meat and Poultry (PDF, 144 kb)
Jan Joannides, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the U of MN, reported on the livestock producers’ survey that she conducted in summer 2011:
Research in Support of a Stronger Local Meat Industry (PDF, 2.5 Mb)
Carissa Nath of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) provided detailed information about natural and organic processing of meats into products such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausage:
Natural & Organic Meat (PDF, 1.4 Mb)
Levi Muhl, Meat Compliance Officer from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Dairy and Food Inspection Division, presented information and answered questions about meat sales regulations. He provided a good overview of the basics and laid to rest some common misunderstandings. We only allowed an hour and 20 minutes for the regulatory presentation, though, and meat sales regulations are very complex. We could have spent three days on the topic.
Farmers with questions about meat sales regulations are encouraged to read the MDA fact sheets found near the bottom of the Meat, Poultry, and Egg Inspection web page. Further questions about regulations should be directed to the MDA’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division: 651-201-6027. Also see, below, the clarification on "Slaughter of Livestock for Custom-Exempt Processing."
MISA would like to especially thank our panelists who did a wonderful job, and made us regret exceedingly the limited time we had to take audience questions.
Kathy Haugse of Sam’s Grocery in Tamarack (Custom-Exempt)
Gerard Hoffarth of St. Joseph Meat Market in St. Joseph (USDA-inspected)
Greg Johnson of Miltona Meats in Miltona (USDA-inspected)
Willie Willenbring of Plantenberg’s Meats in Richmond (MN Equal-To inspected)
Ron Nelson of Nelson-Shine Produce Company near Brainerd (MN Equal-To inspected)
Tom Barthel of Snake River Farm, Becker; producer of bison, beef and hogs
John Peterson of Ferndale Market, Cannon Falls; turkey producer
Mike Stine of Stonebridge Beef, Long Prairie; grass-fed beef producer
Lynn Mizner of Chengwatana Farm, Palisade; lamb producer
A major question that arose from the workshop was about the rules for slaughter of animals that are sold prior to slaughter for meat, and processed at custom-exempt processing plants. After the event Levi Muhl of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture provided the following clarification:
Custom plants that lack a kill floor should only accept carcasses that are fully dressed (skinned and eviscerated) that have been slaughtered on the farm. This is the best and most sanitary practice. Once the animal reaches the custom processor that processor is responsible to properly trim and condition the carcass in a sanitary manner.
Custom-exempt facilities that do have a kill floor and have the ability to properly take in a live animal and kill, skin and eviscerate shall do so in their controlled environment (kill floor). Bringing live animals to these plants is the preferred option. However, these facilities with a kill floor may also accept farm-slaughtered animals. Farm-slaughtered animals should come in to the plant skinned and eviscerated.
Minnesota Equal-To plants have kill floors and inspectors present during slaughter, and animals must be brought in live to these plants. One exception is in the case of animals that may become dangerous to transport or handle, such as bison or beef bulls. In this case an MDA inspector may go out to the farm and perform an ante-mortem inspection on the animal. Then either the farmer or the Equal-To plant employee will kill and bleed the animal. At this point the dead animal is transported to the Equal-To facility for further (post-mortem) inspection, skinning, and evisceration at the plant’s kill floor.
The "All About Selling Meat" workshop was co-sponsored by MISA, the Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Organic and Diversified Agriculture Program, and the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.