Officials say more slaughterhouses needed

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(Host) This is the season when many farmers take their animals to market.

So it’s also a very busy time for the slaughterhouses that process the animals and package the meat.

Vermont has eight commercial slaughterhouses that handle meat from cows, sheep, hogs and other large animals. Four more slaughterhouses process poultry.

There also are smaller operations that can process meat for personal use, but not for retail sale.

Randy Quenneville works in the meat inspection service at the state Agriculture Agency.

He says fall is so busy because many small producers try to get their animals into the slaughterhouses at the same time.

(Quenneville) "For certain parts of the year, there definitely is a backlog because not only are the people who are in the markets – they have to fill their orders but all the people who don’t want to winter their animals over because of the extra feed costs and things like that are trying to get in before winter sets in.”

(Host) State officials believe a "mobile slaughterhouse” could help ease the backlog.

The truck could go to farms and process chickens and turkeys.

The state is seeking bids for a truck and then will lease it out to someone who would operate it.

Quenneville says that would only help poultry farmers. He says producers of larger animals need to get together and show there’s demand for another slaughterhouse.

(Quenneville) " I think if they can organize in that way, there are people willing to start up a facility but they just don’t have the resources to go out and find out where those animals are and where those services are needed the most.”

(Host) Quenneville says there are a couple of  groups in southern Vermont that are trying to do just that. They’re hoping they’ll be able to show there’s demand for one or two slaughterhouses in their region.

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