The desire for local meat processing in Southern Maryland has been a priority for SMADC and livestock producers for over a decade. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for such a facility with generous financial incentives was released last September. Unfortunately, the RFP did not receive a viable response.
Determined to bring these much-needed services to this area, a new approach was presented to Southern Maryland meat producers in a Town Hall meeting held March 22 at the SMECO Headquarters Auditorium in Hughesville. Over 60 people attended the workshop ranging from livestock producers to representatives from the Tri-County Council, the Steering Committee of Southern Maryland Meats, SMADC staff and local media.
Craig Sewell, Southern Maryland Meats Livestock and Marketing Specialist, broke down the topic of “meat processing” into its three constituent pieces: slaughter, cut and wrap (i.e. making retail portions of meat) and added-value operations. His presentation offered potential solutions to each piece of the meat processing puzzle.
For a slaughter solution, he offered the support and involvement of SMADC, similar to the work done with the Clover Hill Dairy, to assist the local Amish in St. Mary’s County in becoming USDA certified for their slaughter facility currently under construction.
For the cut and wrap and added-value operations, he offered many case studies from around the county where the local community of producers got together and formed cooperatives to supply the services they needed.
In addition, at the meeting, a suggestion was taken from the attendees to explore an aggregated model of transportation of livestock to remote locations to cut down on transportation costs while a local solution was being created.
A follow-up meeting was held on April 16th at the Charlotte Hall Library to determine the efficacy of consolidating delivery of live animals to an existing slaughter facility and return cut and wrapped aged product as well value-added commodities to eliminate the considerable time and transportation costs incurred by Southern Maryland meat producers. Representatives from Fauquier’s Finest and Old Line Meats attended in addition to more than 40 producers. A thorough discussion was had on the positive value of such an arrangement, and the potential drawbacks.
Also, a particularly positive discussion ensued around the location of a meat freezer locker in Southern Maryland as well as a value-added processor to make products such as sausages, charcuterie, beef jerky and hotdogs. SMADC offered to write a feasibility study regarding such a facility pending the results of a survey sent to attendees and members of Southern Maryland Meats judging the interest in the formation of such an entity.
You can view and complete that survey here: https://smadc.wufoo.com/forms/z1p0uoj1lzrjpn/
Press articles regarding the meetings:
This discussion is ongoing, and further updates will be coming soon.
If you have questions or input, please contact Craig Sewell as firstname.lastname@example.org or at 301-274-1922 ex. 1. Stay tuned for more updates!