Today the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network (NMPAN) conducted a webinar titled Working Effectively with Your Processor.
For those of you not familiar with NMPAN, it is an eXtension initiative intended to help small-scale meat processors with various aspects of their business. The interests of NMPAN affiliates vary — some are there to assist processors and some are there to assist livestock farmers. My notes and thoughts about this webinar are outlined below. Presentations were made by Kathleen Harris of Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company and Bruce Dunlop of Island Grown Farmers’ Cooperative.
Take Home Messages
I was attentive during the hour-long webinar and scribbled down some point that I thought were very important. To be honest, I was skeptical of how good the program was going to be when the webinar started with “small plants are more humane and food safety is better.” Just like farms, small size is not an automatic qualifier for food safety and humane practices. Then, the meat presentation became much more palatable. Key points made:
Scheduling and Delivery: Though you might have to schedule something six months an in advance, that’s the reality of the situation. Visit with the slaughterhouse or nearby livestock farmers to see if there are other animals that can go on the truck to fill the load, making travel to and from the processor more efficient. Be punctual with animal drop-off and meat pick-up.
Communicating with the Processor: Use the butcher’s cut sheet. This serves as an order form and is usually indicative of what the processor is capable of doing. Make sure all of the directions are provided at the time the animal is dropped off at the plant. Also, it typically does not help the farmer or the butcher when the farmer contacts the butcher all the time. When the order is complete, you’ll be contacted.
Cooperating with the Processor: Personally, I found these points to all be excellent. In fact, 5 of the 10 “Commandments” as they were called, had little to do with the animal or the meat — it was about how to treat the processor. The messages included:
- Don’t be demanding
- Be sensitive of their time
- Compliment them on their work
- Be grateful and appreciative
- and respect them
It sounds like a lot, I know. Yet one of the concluding messages was simply that the processor / butcher / slaughterman or whatever you want to call him or her is providing the farmer with a service that the farmer is either unwilling or unable to do.
The farmer and the butcher couldn’t go on without one another, yet there are a lot more farmers than butchers. That means that the butchers has to deal with many different farmers and (coming from a family of famers) understand full well and good that such a situation means being faced with a lot of strong opinions and personalities. The farmers often say they’re frustrated. Well, so’s the butcher, so maybe we should just step it back a notch and figure out how to work together on this.