The USDA is considering new regulations that could put small meat processors out of business and cripple the production of locally raised meat. The new rules would make the processors do expensive tests on every product they offer, and a well-respected meat processor in my area has said that many small processors will not be able to keep up with the cost and the work involved. If you would like more information, see http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/alerts/10/newsr_100422.htm
As someone who sells chicken, I am really worried about this. This is a version of the e-mail I sent to the USDA. If you share my concern would like to use some of my words in an e-mail of your own, you are welcome to do that. Comments need to be e-mailed to DraftValidationGuideComments@fsis.usda.gov by June 19. Here is my letter:
Dear Sir or Mdm.
I am very worried about the USDA’s drafts of new meat testing regulations for small processors. I am really that these new regulations could put small processors out of business. Without those small processors, small farmers would not be able to sell their meat to people at a time when folks are really excited about local food. The number of tiny farms has grown greatly in recent years, and those small-scale farmers are selling their products to a small but enthusiastic and quickly growing market.
I do not believe that these regulations will make the public any safer. Most people who get sick eating meat are not eating meat from small processors. These processors also do not face many of the conditions that make the larger processors more vulnerable to spreading foodborne illness.
Please make exceptions for small processors in your rules. People want a choice about the kind of meat they buy, and small business people (processors and farmers) deserve a chance to make a go of it. They don’t need any more obstacles in their way, and their work is not making the American people unsafe.