I just read an article in the times about how the chef/farmer Dan Barber has opened a small poultry slaughter himself. This is a great idea. I wonder how he gets around all the USDA rules because meat butchering is one of the most regulated things around. Everyone bemoans how lax the USDA is when it comes to meat but it is the opposite. Big farms and big business can afford to ship their animals to mega USDA slaughterhouses but the small farmer can not. USDA approved slaughterhouses are a rare thing in upstate New York and we need more of them. In fact if New York State cared about its farmer’s it would create a state run meat inspection system that would make meat inspection easier. Many of the states out west do this like Nebraska and Kansas. It is to all our benefit to have more slaughterhouses, and I applaud Dan Barber in making his own especially because is in his own backyard.
The Problem of Slaughterhouses
I think farmers are the first to know when there is a problem in the system. Corporate Ag has been too powerful for too long and has been strategically planning out further consolidation without the knowledge of the most Americans. Farmers as a rule are conservative, independent types, and it is a bit of a leap for them to think that corporations are out to take their livelihood. However, many farmers, conservative and liberal alike, are starting to become aware of the degree to which the system is stacked in favor of the big guy. If you are a farmer you know that slaughterhouses have been becoming rarer and rare and it comes as no surprise that now 80 percent of our beef is processed by only a few companies. This presents a huge obstacle and really has made the family farmer less competitive. There are local reasons why people do not mind closed slaughterhouses. Who wants one in their backyard? But we all should. More slaughterhouses mean that small farmers can compete with large farms—-the larger farms know this and this is why they have closed all the slaughterhouses.