Reshaping the Future of Farm to Table: Expanding Local Meat Processing Capacity in Virginia

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dangers of the U.S. meat processing industry’s concentration became apparent as major facilities shut down due to employees falling sick. The resulting enormous waste in animals and the bareness of retail store’s freezer cases exposed the need to have more capacity in small processors to mitigate risk.

One of the major problems with expanding small processing operations, as we learned through surveys with our partners the American Farmland Trust, is that trained labor is so scarce, despite the relatively high pay and regular hours on offer.

Accordingly, we worked with the Rappahannock Center for Education to develop and institute a meat cutter training program to jump-start the supply of labor for our region’s small processors and help small producers get access to more local processing.

This video tells that story, from the perspective of local producers and the program educators. We were proud to be the catalyst to get this work going and help give our small farmers more options for their products!

Funding for this video was made possible by a grant/cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Market Service. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.