The student farmers went up to the Adams slaughterhouse for a tour this week, getting a look at that vital component in our meat production cycle. This field-trip raises important questions and concerns in every group of students, and it gives us all an opportunity to think more deeply and to discuss our own views on the issue of meat production. The Adams facility is really well run, and was built and designed to reflect our most up to date understanding of livestock welfare and processing, but there is no
nice way to accomplish that work of slaughtering and butchering livestock. Though the staff at Adams works hard to make the process safe and low-stress, the contrast between the life that we provide for our animals, and their experience in the slaughter facility, is stark. This contrast often makes our students question the structure of the meat production system that has this type of animal experience built into it, despite the efforts of the farmer to treat their animals well. This naturally leads to the desire to process animals on the farm, in the place that they were raised, cared for and know, to avoid the trip the slaughter facility, the time spent in the pens, the walk onto the kill floor, and all that goes into these activities. In Massachusetts, and the country at large, meat sold to the public must have a USDA stamp on it, must have been processed under the supervision of a USDA inspector, and the processing must meet standards developed and laid out by the USDA. That precludes on farm processing, unless the on farm component really just means a USDA inspected slaughter house on your own farm. The cost of building a facility that meets USDA standards, that the USDA will staff with an inspector, puts this out of reach for almost all farmers. So if a farmer wants to legally sell meat to the public, they have to bring their livestock to a USDA approved facility, and therefor subject their animals to the difficult environment inherent in that process. An alternative to this approach would be raising animals for only your own consumption. This would require processing the animals yourself, or finding one of the last few remaining roving on-farm processors who will come to your farm and take your animals through processing for you there.
and systems that make the Program for Visiting Schools work so well. The art-brary has been gutted and restored better than ever, we’ve filled a dumpster with metal scrap for recycling, we’ve cleaned and organized the barn fencing area, and the dairy cows now have a second winter yard closer to the barn to use if conditions get too bad for their main yard.