In case you missed its action on Twitter and commentary from foodies all over, the New York Times ran an article this weekend on the state of slaughterhouses in America. While the locavore movement is taking off, many of those independent farmers are having tougher and tougher times finding appointments with local processors. The USDA states that, while the number of slaughterhouses have decreased by almost half since 1992, the number of small farmers have increased by 108,000 just in the past five years. This problem has progressed to a point where even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted it was a serious issue, especially in the Northeast.

The infrastructure that farmers crave for their highly coveted products is a tricky issue that has a number of caveats. Among the problems associated with opening and maintaining a slaughterhouse are communities that openly reject the idea of slaughterhouses “in their backyard,” and the demand for “skilled management and work force…a good supply of water, a good way of getting rid of waste,” according to Ed Maltby, of Adams Farm, quoted in the NYT article.

One solution in effect now is mobile slaughtering units that can slaughter up to ten animals per day. Undoubtedly, however, this is not going to solve the problem completely. Animals are still getting stressed on the way to slaughter, affecting the meat produced. Member Chef Bill Telepan put it succinctly “There are a lot of people out there who raise great animals for us to use, and they don’t have the opportunity to get them to us…”

Because the issue is so relevant, it’s been drawing attention from voices in the food industry everywhere, including Board Member Tom Philpott. The complete article can be found here.

Join the conversation; what are your thoughts on the slaughterhouse issue?

Photo courtesy of Ard Hesselink