• Friday, September 29, 2023 1:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Covid-19 pandemic taught our nation many things. One of those things was the volatility of our nation’s food supply chain. With many families left wondering where they could get food and shelves left empty on many occasions, proteins became hard to find and prices reflected it. Consumers felt it in their pocketbooks and inside their homes at the kitchen table. The large meat processing companies were faced with unprecedented closures and meat was not making it to markets. That’s where the small to mid-sized meat and poultry processors stepped up their game. So many across the country accepted the challenge and set record levels of production. The small to mid-size processors intensified production and helped their farmers and communities. Without these processors, the market could have been completely turned upside down. Farmers had a way to continue processing their livestock and poultry. Consumers had another avenue of attaining meats for their families.

    The work of the small and mid-sized processors didn’t go unnoticed. Even President Joe Biden addressed what the loss of processors would mean when he said “Without meaningful competition, farmers and ranchers don’t get to choose who they sell to. Or put another way, our farmers and ranchers have to pay whatever these four big companies say they have to pay, by and large. But that’s only half of it.These companies can use their position as middlemen to overcharge grocery stores and, ultimately, families.”

    Today, the small and mid-sized processors face a new challenge. A challenge that will ultimately be too much for many. You see, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is going to regulate wastewater from meat and poultry processors. Yes, we all want clean water, and no one is arguing to not take measures to ensure it, but we need a solution that is viable for even the smallest meat processor. The EPA is proposing a wastewater management system required by all processors regardless of size, production, or output. This will impact USDA and custom processors. The proposed cost of these regulations are $5,000 to $3.2 million upfront and $5,000 to $400,000 annually for maintenance and testing. We are only a couple months away from a final ruling on this and no one knows what equipment will be needed. With that range of costs, processors are terrified….justifiably. Wastewater management can’t be a one size fits all solution and certainly can’t be one that threatens the existence of thousands of small companies across the country.

    Let’s discuss who is impacted by these regulations and how.

    The small to mid-sized poultry and meat processor

    They are the most directly impacted. They are forced into paying for, creating the infrastructure, and maintaining the wastewater management systems. As mentioned above, this can be very costly. These types of costs are sunk costs with no way to recoup. It doesn’t increase efficiency, productivity, or help operational processes. Therefore, it is not an investment! To continue operations, most will have to raise costs to the consumers. With inflation and food costs already soaring, this is not something any meat processor or retailer wants to do.

    The consumer

    Cha-Ching! The consumer will undoubtedly pay more at the checkout for all meats. If the processor can stay open, their costs just went up….most likely substantially. Therefore, those costs must be passed on to the consumer. If the small and mid-sized processors don’t survive, it opens up the market to the Big Four processors and now they can charge whatever they want for their products. No one charges less.

    The farmer/rancher

    Finding a processor is already a challenge to livestock farmers and ranchers. Often, processors are already operating at maximum capacities so finding one to accept animals can be difficult. Not all processors process poultry so there are already limited poultry processors. Not all processors process sheep and goat so there are already limited sheep/goat processors. If processors face shutting their doors, this becomes even more difficult. For the sheep and goat producers, the remaining processors will undoubtedly see an increase in the demand for beef and pork processing making is harder to locate processor for sheep and goat. While it is hard to put a number on the impacts of this, you can see it will be much more difficult and costly to process your livestock. With fewer processors, there is a reduction in competition. Therefore, farmers are most likely going to have to accept less for their animals. Harder to sell and for less money is a hard pill to swallow for livestock farmers and ranchers.

    So what’s next?

    The industry was pretty much blind-sided by these new regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced earlier this year that it intends to update its water pollution rules for meat and poultry processing facilities for the first time in nearly 20 years, following a lawsuit from environmental groups and animal rights activists arguing current standards are too weak. Proposed regulations are scheduled to come out in December 2023, followed by a public comment period. Final regulations are expected to be implemented in December of 2025.

    It is time to speak up!

    • Contact your state’s congressmen and senators and tell them you want to see this stopped or amended.
    • Make sure meat processors and livestock producers are aware of this potential regulation and how it might devastate their businesses.
    • Watch for the EPA’s proposed regulations and make your voice heard during the comment period. These should come out in December 2023.

    The EPA seems completely disconnected with the agriculture and meat processing industries. Or simply don’t care. They refer to small business as one with less than 1,000 employees! This illustrates the disconnect between the agency and how our industry operates.

    Speaking up in numbers is a must! Tell your story to let them know how you will be impacted.

  • Friday, July 07, 2023 4:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Animal-raising claims, such as “grass-fed” and “free-range,” are voluntary marketing claims that must be approved by FSIS before they can be included on the labels of meat and poultry products sold to consumers.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is implementing a multi-step effort aimed at strengthening the substantiation of animal-raising claims. This action builds on the significant work USDA has already undertaken to protect consumers from false and misleading labels and to implement President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American economy.

    “Consumers should be able to trust that the label claims they see on products bearing the USDA mark of inspection are truthful and accurate,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA is taking action today to ensure the integrity of animal-raising claims and level the playing field for producers who are truthfully using these claims, which we know consumers value and rely on to guide their meat and poultry purchasing decisions.”

    Animal-raising claims, such as “grass-fed” and “free-range,” are voluntary marketing claims that highlight certain aspects of how the source animals for meat and poultry products are raised. These claims must be approved by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) before they can be included on the labels of meat and poultry products sold to consumers. FSIS most recently updated its guideline on these claims in 2019.

    FSIS has received several petitions, comments, and letters from a wide range of stakeholders asking the agency to reevaluate its oversight of animal-raising claims, specifically, how they are substantiated. In addition, the veracity of “negative” antibiotics claims (e.g., “raised without antibiotics” or “no antibiotics ever”) has come into question.

    FSIS, in partnership with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will be conducting a sampling project to assess antibiotic residues in cattle destined for the “raised without antibiotics” market. The results of this project will help inform whether FSIS should require that laboratory testing results be submitted for the “raised without antibiotics” claim or start a new verification sampling program.

    FSIS will also be issuing a revised industry guideline to recommend that companies strengthen the documentation they submit to the agency to substantiate animal-raising claims. The agency plans to strongly encourage use of third-party certification to verify these claims.

    Together these actions will be used to guide potential rulemaking on animal-raising claims. USDA looks forward to continued engagement with stakeholders as it works to ensure these claims meet consumer expectations.

    Article originally published by American Association of Meat Processors 

  • Tuesday, June 20, 2023 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The demand for skilled talent in the meat industry is strong at the state and national level. Michigan State University Extension is offering a workforce development opportunity formatted as an online meat cutter training course. Whether you are a current or aspiring meat cutter or just looking to gain additional meat science knowledge, this self-paced course, which is open to the public, offers detailed demonstrational beef and pork cutting videos, supplemented with helpful information for any meat enthusiast.

    Offered on-demand, the online meat cutter training course includes multiple demonstrational videos on pork and beef carcass breakdown (Figure 1) into wholesale, subprimal, and retail cuts.

    Videos include:
    Beef Forequarter Breakdown

    • Skirt steaks
    • Brisket
    • Bone-In Chuck
    • Boneless Chuck
    • Short Ribs
    • Rib

    Beef Hindquarter Breakdown
    • Bone-In Loin
    • Boneless Loin
    • Sirloin
    • Round
    • Flank

    Wholesale Pork Carcass Breakdown
    • Ham
    • Boneless and Bone-In Loin
    • Belly
    • Spareribs
    • Boston butt
    • Picnic shoulder
    This interactive certificate training program also includes material and exercises covering meat inspection, food safety, beef grading, fabrication, meat grinding, aging meat, retail display, and labeling. In addition to serving as a training asset for meat cutters, this course will also benefit employees with cut identification, packaging, and labeling to aid in sales, marketing, and customer service. Upon successful completion, each individual will receive a Certificate of Completion. Registration details can be found on the Meat Cutter Training Course website. Course content is estimated to take 6 to 8 hours to complete, and the course is designed for participants to work as their own pace as time permits. Registration is $125 and includes continued access to course materials.

    Original post made on American Association of Meat Processors site. 

  • Thursday, June 01, 2023 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    AAMP Welcomes KAMP

    The American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), North America’s largest meat trade association, welcomes the Kentucky Association of Meat Processors (KAMP) as its newest state affiliate. AAMP now has 30 state and regional associations among its affiliates.

    “KAMP was formed to create a network of meat processors operating in Kentucky to allow for better communication of information pertinent to our industry, the open exchange of ideas and challenges, and closer ties between processors. KAMP will work to represent processors across the state in helping solve issues that face the industry,” said Jennifer Hardin, KAMP Executive Secretary. She said that there had been a state association in Kentucky that dissolved decades ago. This new association formed in 2022 and officially got off the ground this year.

    “The reviving of the association will help lead to a better-unified meat processing industry in the state. It will give meat processors the opportunity to work with others in the industry and provide help to reach common goals of processors,” Hardin adds.

    There are more than 100 small meat processors in Kentucky, most of which are family-owned businesses, as well as a handful of poultry processors and country ham producers. There is a mix of both USDA-inspected and custom processors. KAMP will work to provide a unified voice and representation at both a state and national level. One of the association’s current initiatives, Hardin says, is to find ways to better recruit, train and retain employees.

    The KAMP Board of Directors is as follows:

    • John Edwards, Trackside Butcher Shoppe, Campbellsburg, KY
    • Chris Milam, Hampton’s Premium Meats, Hopkinsville, KY
    • Dr. Randy Smoot, Green River Meats (under construction), Campbellsville, KY
    • Allison Boone Porteus, Boone’s Butcher Shop, Bardstown, KY
    • Rich Albrecht, Thompson Equipment & Supply (Supplier Member)
    • Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture (Ex Officio Board Member)
    • Myrisa Christy, Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) (Ex Officio Board Member)
    • Warren Beeler, Western Kentucky University (Ex Officio Board Member)

    Any processor who joins KAMP will gain access to a group of fellow meat processors offering a network of individuals with similar needs and experiences. KAMP will serve as a proactive voice for meat processers at a local, state and national level, and it will help encourage development of university and extension programs to benefit the industry. The association has planned a joint event with the Indiana Meat Packers & Processors Association for September 8-9, 2023. The “Bratwurst & Bourbon Tour” will involve a visit to a local meat processor as well as some bourbon distilleries, ending with a dinner in Louisville.

    “Teaming up with the Indiana association allows us the chance to network with even more processors. We will have suppliers joining us as well,” Hardin says.

    Hardin notes that Kentucky processors have operated for decades without the support of an association behind them. “We want our processors to know that you are not alone in running your business, and we want to offer support. By joining KAMP, our meat processing in the state will only strengthen, and we will have a much louder voice,” Hardin says. “As an organization we have jumped right into addressing many of the issues that face meat processors. We have gone beyond just getting our feet wet, and I am working daily to provide ways that strengthen our industry in the state. We are addressing regulation issues, grant funding, workforce development and several other areas that impact our state's plants.”

Kentucky Association of Meat Processors is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 176 Pasadena Dr. Lexington, KY 40503

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