State-inspected Meat Plants Help Supply Local Meat to Wyoming
With cattle being the biggest sector of Wyoming agriculture, accounting for over half of all cash receipts and a value of production at $937 million in 2014, it’s important for producers to be able to safely sell their products wherever they can. With the movement toward local food growing, buying locally is a more appealing business choice than ever before.
While there are several ways to accomplish this goal – like direct sales of animals to other citizens who then send for processing or sending animals to USDA plants outside of Wyoming, one common way is through one of the 18 state-inspected meat plants located throughout Wyoming. Sending animals to state inspected meat plants allows producers to sell directly to grocery stores, restaurants and citizens in the state of Wyoming. Producers across Wyoming are choosing this option for some of their cattle because it opens the possibility to build relationships with restaurants, grocery stores and consumers in the state to buy locally grown and safe beef.
When an animal is sent to harvest at a Wyoming meat plant, Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA) Consumer Health Services (CHS) inspectors are there to help ensure the safety of the products that will be sold to consumers of Wyoming. CHS inspectors are on hand in the state-inspected meat plants whenever the slaughter and processing of an animal occurs. The inspector reviews the slaughter process of all animals from the time they are received at the plant to the time the carcass is placed in the cooler. In some instances, this means a CHS inspector will be in the plant on a daily basis. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees all meat processing in the country, and the work CHS inspectors do at the state-inspected meat plants helps Wyoming maintain an “equal to” status with the USDA. This system not only protects consumers, it also protects producers by helping ensure the products they sell are safe for sales.
While the majority of cattle in Wyoming are sent out of state for processing, the state-inspected meat plants give producers more business opportunities within the state of Wyoming to keep their products in the state. With the growth of local food and the drive for consumers to buy products closer to home, this option gives producers a safe and viable way to fill that demand. If producers choose to sell their products out of state, they can choose from federal plants inspected by the USDA in each of the state’s neighboring Wyoming.