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Mount Morris, IL
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Meat Processing Plant
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The Food Chain’s Weakest Link: Slaughterhouses
A relatively small number of plants process much of the beef and pork in the United States, and some of them have closed because workers are getting sick.
The modern American slaughterhouse is a very different place from the one that Upton Sinclair depicted in his earlyth-century novel, “The Jungle.”
Many are giant, sleek refrigerated assembly lines, staffed mostly by unionized workers who slice, debone and “gut snatch” hog and beef carcasses, under constant oversight of government inspectors. The jobs are often grueling and sometimes dangerous, but pork and beef producers boast about having some of the most heavily sanitized work spaces of any industry.
Yet meat plants, honed over decades for maximum efficiency and profit, have become major “hot spots” for the coronavirus pandemic, with some reporting widespread illnesses among their workers. The health crisis has revealed how these plants are becoming the weakest link in the nation’s food supply chain, posing a serious challenge to meat production.
After decades of consolidation, there are about federally inspected slaughterhouses in the United States, processing billions of pounds of meat for food stores each year. But a relatively small number of them account for the vast majority of production. In the cattle industry, a little more than 50 plants are responsible for as much as 98 percent of slaughtering and processing in the United States, according to Cassandra Fish, a beef analyst.
Shutting down one plant, even for a few weeks, is like closing an airport hub. It backs up hog and beef production across the country, crushes prices paid to farmers and eventually leads to months of meat shortages.
“Slaughterhouses are a critical bottleneck in the system,” said Julie Niederhoff, an associate professor of supply chain management at Syracuse University. “When they go down, we are in trouble.”
The ripple effects of the virus are now being felt across the entire meat supply chain, all the way to grocery store freezers.
More than a dozen beef, pork and chicken processing plants have closed or are running at greatly reduced speeds because of the pandemic. This past week, the number of cattle slaughtered dropped nearly 22 percent from the same period a year ago, while hog slaughter was down 6 percent, according to the Department of Agriculture. The decline is partly driven by the shutdown of restaurants and hotels, but plant closings have also caused a major disruption, leaving many ranchers with nowhere to send their animals.
Even as one prominent meat executive warned on Easter that the nation was “perilously close” to a meat shortage, state and federal regulators have been sending mixed signals to the industry about how to deal with the crisis.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem requested publicly that Smithfield Foods close its huge pork facility in Sioux Falls after testing revealed that the plant accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases in the city and the surrounding county. But federal officials had been repeatedly urging the company and other meat producers to find ways to keep their plants running because of their importance to the food supply, according to two people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
By Thursday, the tests had revealed that the pork plant was the nation’s single largest “hot spot,” with about 16 percent of the 3, employees testing positive for the virus. The hospitalization rate among the workers has been relatively low because they tend to be younger, said Dr. David Basel, a vice president at the Avera Medical Group in Sioux Falls, who has been involved in the testing of the Smithfield employees.
Dr. Basel praised Smithfield for encouraging its employees, many of whom are refugees and immigrants from Latin America and Asia and speak 80 different dialects, to get tested. Doctors made instructional videos in Nepalese and Spanish, and tracked down and tested workers who had been in close contact with infected employees.
“The numbers are improving after the plant closed,” Dr. Basel said. “I am feeling more optimistic this week.”
Still, the high infection rate raised questions about whether Smithfield had done enough to carry out social-distancing protocols and to supply protective gear. At least one worker has died from the virus, according to the state.
On Thursday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toured the Sioux Falls plant, an eight-story facility that churned 24 hours a day alongside the Big Sioux River, producing 5 percent of the nation’s pork. The agency is expected to release recommendations in the next few days on how to prevent another outbreak when the plant reopens. The company has not given a date.
Before the plant closed this past week, the company had provided employees with face shields and masks and installed plexiglass barriers in certain areas to separate employees. But in reality, it may be difficult for any meat plant to accommodate social distancing and remain as profitable. Jobs with titles like “gut snatcher” require people to work closely, slicing open pigs and pulling out entrails.
“It is not going to be easy to get workers six feet apart,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University’s medical school. “If you space people out, you reduce productivity.”
Officials in the meat industry have also argued that South Dakota’s decision to not issue a stay-at-home order may be contributing to the outbreak, because it has left relatives and neighbors of plant employees free to mingle. South Dakota officials have said residents should exercise “personal responsibility” and practice social distancing.
“That’s a very, very high rate,” Dr. Schaffner said of the infections at the Smithfield plant. “But it’s difficult to know how much of the transmission occurred in the workplace or in the community.”
Some meat companies have expressed reluctance to test workers, saying such targeted testing creates the false impression that meat plants are the main culprits for the spread of the virus. The more aggressively employees are tested, the more cases emerge, putting pressure on plants to shut down.
“Everybody wants to test meatpacking employees, but nobody is testing the communities around them to show what’s the baseline,” said Steve Stouffer, the president of the fresh meats division at Tyson Foods. “And until we know the baselines, my question has always been: Are we the cause or are we just the victim of our surroundings?”
In some places where the company operates, Mr. Stouffer said, the company has faced pressure to “shut down at all costs.”
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “We’ve been tried and convicted already in certain spaces.”
Another major meatpacking company, JBS, changed its mind about large-scale testing over a single weekend.
On April 10, JBS announced that it had worked with Gov. Jared Polis and other officials in Colorado to obtain thousands of coronavirus testing kits for its work force at a beef production facility in Greeley where there had been a surge of cases. But after it began testing the next day, the company changed course, saying it would not administer the tests and would instead close the plant until April 24 so employees could go into quarantine.
The company recognized the “potential positive impact of temporary closure on public health,” Cameron Bruett, a JBS spokesman, said.
On Wednesday, Colorado officials reported that four workers at the JBS plant had died of the virus. Mr. Polis has urged the federal government to “help get JBS open as soon as possible, because of their critical role in food security,” said Conor Cahill, a spokesman for the governor. “It is still unclear whether JBS will conduct testing.”
Large numbers of employees have become infected in other businesses where people work close together, like grocery stores and e-commerce warehouses. But the pandemic has caused more serious disruption in the meat industry, where decades of consolidation have given outsize importance to a relatively small number of plants.
In the s and ’90s, companies like Smithfield, which is now owned by a Chinese pork company, bought out competitors and designed massive plants that could slaughter more than a million animals a year. At the same time, meatpacking became more concentrated in a few states where animal feed is grown, like Iowa and South Dakota.
In the pork industry, the portion of hogs slaughtered in plants that could process more than one million a year rose to 88 percent in from 38 percent in , according to the Department of Agriculture. A bigger plant meant more profits on the initial investment.
In recent years, critics of the meat industry have blamed that rapid consolidation for the spread of animal diseases like avian flu, as well as the rise of environmentally harmful practices like factory farming. The pandemic has reignited those longstanding concerns.
“When you get to this kind of size, it increases risk,” said Ben Lilliston, who helps run the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a farm advocacy group. “When something goes wrong in a really big plant like this, you have a really big problem. These are vulnerable systems.”
Approved Immediate Slaughter Facilities
The USDA’s Approved Immediate Slaughter Facilities is a comprehensive listing of slaughter plants inspected and approved by USDA APHIS to receive the listed livestock from Canada or Mexico for “Direct to Slaughter” purposes. For questions or to request an inspection for a firm to be added to this listing, please email [email protected]
|Approved Facility||Street Address||City||State||Approved Animals||Federal Establishment Number||Country of Origin|
Meatpacking District, Manhattan
United States historic place
The Meatpacking District is a neighborhood in the New York Cityborough of Manhattan that runs from West 14th Street south to Gansevoort Street, and from the Hudson River east to Hudson Street. The Meatpacking Business Improvement District extends these borders farther north to West 17th Street, east to Eighth Avenue, and south to Horatio Street.
A Native American trading station called "Sapohanikan" was on the riverbank, which, accounting for landfill, was located about where Gansevoort Street meets Washington Street today. The footpath that led from Sapohanikan inland to the east became the foundation for Gansevoort Street, which by accident or design aligns, within one degree, to the spring and autumnal equinoxes. In recognition of this history, petitions were made to call the 14th Street Park "Saphohanikan Park", although it appears no formal recognition was given.
The earliest development of the area now known as the Meatpacking District came in the midth century. Before that it was the location of Fort Gansevoort[a] and of the upper extension of Greenwich Village, which had been a vacation spot until overtaken by the northward movement of New York City. The irregular street patterns in the area resulted from the clash of the Greenwich Village street system with that of the Commissioners' Plan of , which sought to impose a regular grid on the undeveloped part of Manhattan island.
Construction of residences in the neighborhood – primarily rowhouses and town houses, some of which were later converted into tenements – began around , primarily in the Greek Revival style which was prominent at the time. By mid-century, with Fort Gansevoort replaced by freight yards of the Hudson River Railroad, a neighborhood developed which was part heavy industry and part residential – a pattern which was more typical of an earlier period in the city's history but which was becoming less usual, as industry and residences began to be isolated in their own districts. In the western portion of the neighborhood, heavy industry such as iron works and a terra cotta manufacturer could be found, while lighter industry such as carpentry and woodworking, lumber yards, paint works, granite works and a plaster mill blended into the residential area. At the time of the Civil War the part of the district west of Ninth Avenue and Greenwich Street and above 10th Street was the location of numerous distilleries making turpentine and camphene, a lamp fuel.
After the Civil War
When development began again after the war in the s, the tenor of the neighborhood changed. Since it was no longer considered a desirable area to live in, construction of single-family residences was replaced with the building of multiple-family dwellings, and the continued internal industrialization increased. In addition an elevated railroad line had been constructed through the neighborhood along Ninth Avenue and Greenwich Street, completed in  Additional development began in the s when two new markets began operating in the area. On the old freight yards, the Gansevoort Market (originally the "Farmer's Market"), an open-air space for the buying and selling of regional produce started in , and the West Washington Market, 10 brick buildings used for meat, poultry and dairy transactions, relocated to the river side of West Street in  By the area was home to slaughterhouses and packing plants, and by the s what had been a neighborhood based on mixture of marketplaces became more tightly focused on meatpacking and related activities – although other industries continued to be located there, including cigar-making, transportation-related businesses such as automobile repair, express services and garages, import-export firms, marine supplies, cosmetics, printing and many others. After decades of debate, the High Line elevated freight line was authorized in as part of the "West Side Improvement Plan", and the New York Central Railroad completed construction, passing through the neighborhood, in 
Decline and resurgence
The area's decline began around the s as part of the general decline of the waterfront area. Containerization of freight; the advent of supermarkets which changed the distribution pattern for meat, dairy and produce from a locally or regionally based system to a more national one; and the development of frozen foods and refrigerated trucks to deliver them were all factors in this, but meatpacking continued to be the major activity in the neighborhood through the s. At the same time a new "industry", nightclubs and other entertainment and leisure operations catering to a gay clientele, began to spring up in the area.
In the s, as the industrial activities in the area continued their downturn, it became known as a center for drug dealing and prostitution, particularly involving transsexuals. Concurrent with the rise in illicit sexual activity, the sparsely populated industrial area became the focus of the city's burgeoning BDSM subculture; over a dozen sex clubs including such notable ones as The Anvil, The Manhole, the Mineshaft, and the heterosexual-friendly Hellfire Club flourished in the area. Many of these establishments were under the direct control of the Mafia or subject to NYPD protection rackets. In the Mineshaft was forcibly shuttered by the city at the height of AIDS preventionism.
Beginning in the late s, the Meatpacking District went through a transformation. High-end boutiques catering to young professionals and hipsters opened, including Diane von Fürstenberg, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Barbour, Rubin & Chapelle,Theory, Ed Hardy, Puma, Moschino, ADAM by Adam Lippes, and an Apple Store; restaurants such as Pastis—which closed in —and 5 Ninth; and nightclubs such as Tenjune. In , New York magazine called the Meatpacking District "New York’s most fashionable neighborhood".
A catalyst for even greater transformation of the area was the opening in June of the first segment of the High Line linear park. A former elevated freight railroad built under the aegis of Robert Moses, it opened to great reviews in the District (and in Chelsea to the north) as a greenway modeled after Paris's Promenade Plantée. Thirteen months earlier, the Whitney Museum of American Art had announced that it would build a second, Renzo Piano-designed home at 99 Gansevoort Street, just west of Washington Street and adjacent to the southernmost entrance to the High Line; and on May 1, , the museum opened at this site. These were turning points in the changes experienced by the neighborhood over the first two decades of the 21st century, transforming it from a gritty manufacturing district into a bustling high-end retail, dining, and residential area, as documented by photographer Brian Rose in his book Metamorphosis.
In September the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) established the Gansevoort Market Historic District, and in New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash approved adding the entire Meatpacking District, an area which included both the Gansevoort Market Historic District and the neighborhood's waterfront, to the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. The state district was listed on the National Register on May 30, and included buildings, two structures, and one other site.
- ^ ab"National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13,
- ^McPherson, Coco (December 24, ). "Close-Up on: The Meatpacking District". Village Voice. Archived from the original on August 8, Retrieved
- ^New York Times map of Meatpacking District
- ^Mohney, Chris (September 25, ). "Close-Up on: The Meatpacking District". Gawker. Archived from the original on January 16, Retrieved
- ^"Neighborhood - Meatpacking District Official Website". Meatpacking District Official Website. Retrieved
- ^Hudson River Park Trust
- ^Letter from J. Lee Compton, Chair, City of New York Manhattan Community Board 4 to Kathy Howe (March 8, )
- ^Bolton, Reginald Pelham. Indian Paths in the Great Metropolis New York Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, pp
- ^Earth System Research Laboratory
- ^"Folkies Sing a Different TuneFor Village’s Chapel Buildin [sic]"New York Observer (February 12, )
- ^ abcdefghShockley, Jay "Gansevoort Market Historic District Designation Report part 1"Archived at WebCite, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (September 9, )
- ^Johnson, Clint. "A Vast and Fiendish Plot" New York Archive (Winter )
- ^New York City Names Gansevoort Market a Historic DistrictArchived at the Wayback Machine, from the website of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- ^Gay, Tim (July 14–20, ). "Bring back the beefcake, and add some flowers too". The Villager. Retrieved
- ^Renzi, Jen. "The raw and the cooked: From red light to limelight, New York's meatpacking district redesigns for fashion", Interior Design (4/1/)
- ^Beth Landman (February 26, ). "NYC celebs remember iconic Meatpacking eatery Pastis". New York Post. Retrieved April 16,
- ^Platt, Adam (May 21, ). "Top 5". New York. Retrieved
- ^Steinberg, Jon (August 18, ). "Meatpacking District Walking Tour". New York. Retrieved
- ^"Brian Rose Photography". Retrieved 20 August
- ^Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Save Gansevoort Market
- ^Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Meatpacking District Approved for Listing on State and National Register of Historic Places (11 April )
Me near meat plant
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The Cornell Small Farms Program is housed at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) in Ithaca, NY, and works in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension across New York State.
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Meat Processors Near Me
Finding a meat processor can be challenging, even when searching online. Our list of meat processors only shows butchers who process livestock for customers. It excludes retail and wholesale meat distributors (businesses who sell meat, but don’t process for customers).
Ag Service Finder makes it easy to find a meat processor. Search from hundreds of meat processors today!
Find a Meat Processor Near You:
How to Choose a Great Meat Processing Plant
It can be difficult to find a processing plant that fulfills your needs and also impresses you with high quality and great service. Meat processing is a delicate process that requires expertise and skill. To help you find a great meat processing plant, listed below are a few good qualities to look for.
3 Qualities of an Excellent Meat Processing Plant:
When using a meat processing plant there are 3 important qualities to look for:
- High-Quality Work
These qualities are very important and should be considered before choosing to do business with a processing plant.
Read below why these qualities make for an excellent meat processing plant…
1. High-Quality Work
Everyone expects great quality from their meat processing plant, but unfortunately not all processing plants are equal. You’ll want the job to be done with precision and expertise so you can achieve the best finished product.
Read online reviews for different processing plants in your area or ask someone who has worked with them before. If you hear that the quality of the product from a processing plant isn’t so great, you should consider looking for another plant.
You can also ask a manager at the plant about their safety procedures and how they ensure a great quality product.
Once you decide on a processing plant to use, closely examine the final product to determine if you want to work with them again.
Cleanliness is a great indicator of a great meat processing plant.
Not only should the facility be kept clean for health reasons, but it also gives you an idea of the quality of management at the plant.
Ask for a tour of the processing plant before bringing your animals.
Depending on your area, it could be difficult to find a processing plant that is able to quickly accept your animal(s). Some processing plants are backed up with customers.
Some plants may require you to join a waiting list, so plan ahead or find a meat processing plant that is ready to take your animals now.
Questions to Ask a Meat Processing Plant Before Doing Business
- Are you USDA or state inspected?
- How long are you booked into the future?
- How do you price your services?
- What are your cleaning procedures for the facility?
- How long have you been in business?
Also check out these frequently asked questions about meat processing:
How much does it cost to process a cow?
Before processing your beef, you’ll want to have an idea of how much it will cost to have it processed.
The truth is, the cost will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the weight of your animal and the cuts you order. Additionally, not all meat processors charge the same rates, therefore you’ll need to contact one directly for an accurate quote.
Regardless, you can roughly expect the cost of processing a cow to be $ for slaughter and $ per pound (hanging weight) for the base processing fee.
Additional “per pound” processing fees will be added for the cuts you order and other services you select, such as curing and smoking.
Check out these price lists from various meat processors to get a better idea of beef processing prices:
Contact a meat processor near you to see prices in your area!
How much meat do you get from a 1, lb. cow?
Not all of your cow’s weight will end up in the finished product. This weight loss is a result of many factors, including draining of the blood and discarding of undesirable parts (such as the head and hooves). Even after discarding of these parts, the carcass will continue to lose moisture and decrease in weight.
In the end, your cow will yield roughly 43% of it’s original weight in retail cuts on average. For a 1, lb. animal, this is lbs.
This yield percentage represents an average according to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. The actual yield will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the breed, fat to muscle ratio, and age of the cow.
How much does it cost to butcher a pig?
The cost of butchering your pig will vary depending on many factors, such as the weight of your animal and the cuts you order. Prices also change depending on your location and the meat processor.
An example of the average cost of processing a pig is $ for slaughter and $ per pound (hanging weight) for the base processing fee.
This is just one example of pig processing costs. Pig processing can be priced using various methods. For example, some processors don’t charge a slaughter fee, but charge a higher “per pound” processing fee based off the hanging weight. Other butchers may also price their services based of the pig’s live weight.
The “per pound” processing fee will also increase depending on the cuts you select.
Check with a local meat processor to see how they price their pig processing or use these price lists as examples:
How much meat do you get from a lb. pig?
Some parts of a pig are not used to make meat products, such as the blood and organs.
This means that your pig will not yield the same amount of meat as it’s weight. The carcass will also lose weight due to moisture loss and other factors.
A pig will yield roughly 57% of it’s original weight in retail cuts on average. For a lb. pig, this is lbs.
This yield percentage represents an average according to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. The actual yield will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the breed, fat to muscle ratio, and age of the pig.
How Can I Legally Sell Meat?
Selling meat is not the same as selling other types of goods. Since meat is highly perishable and has other risks associated with it, it must be handled with proper care and proceedures.
To ensure safe handling, meat must be processed while under USDA inspection in order for the meat to be sold to the public.
Alternatively, an animal can be sold to various owners before processing. After processing, the meat belongs to the owners and is marked “Not for sale.” This reduces costs and means you won’t need to find a USDA-inspected processing plant.
Find a meat processor in your area today and ask about USDA-inspected processing!
What Is Custom-Exempt Processing?
Custom-exempt processing, commonly referred to as “custom processing,” is a practice used by many to process their meat.
A custom-exempt operation is not subject to continuous federal or state inspection. As a result, the processed meat is for personal use of the owner. It will be labled “Not for sale” and cannot be sold to the public.
Custom processing is most often used for processing wild game, but may also be used for livestock, such as cattle and pigs. The biggest downside for custom processing livestock is the inability to sell the meat afterwards, although there is a loophole.
Since custom processed meat is for personal use of the owner, you can sell the animal, in part or in whole, to new owners prior to processing. Once the animal is processed, the resulting meat will be split among the new owners.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Deer Processed?
After the hunt, you may be wondering how much it will cost to get your deer processed.
Although deer processing prices vary, it will typically cost between $50 and $ for basic deer processing. Additional “per pound” charges may be added on top of that for specialty products, such as sausage, snack sticks, or jerky.
Check out these price lists from various meat processors to get a better idea of deer processing prices:
Almost all meat processors on Ag Service Finder process wild game, such as deer. Find a meat processor near you today!
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FSIS Database of Federally Inspected Plants
USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service provides a list, in pdf, of federally inspected processing establishments: FSIS Meat, Poultry, and Egg Product Inspection Directory.
If you have a current copy of Adobe Acrobat, you can search pdfs for words. So if you are looking for a plant in Cincinnati, type Cincinnati into the search box, and youll find all USDA-inspected establishments there.
Each entry is coded by basic type (slaughter, processing, import, and/or ID warehouse) and gives establishment number, address, and phone number.
A number of states provide a list of processors; we have collected these lists here. Some lists are only subsets (e.g. only state-inspected plants, not federal). Formats vary, from downloadable pdf to searchable online database.
- If you know of a state list that isnt posted here, email us.
- If you find out of date listings, please contact the original source, named on each states page.
Local Harvest Niche Meat Processor Directory
Are you looking for a small or mid-sized processor who can handle niche meats and work with small or mid-sized producers?
Are YOU that processor?
NMPAN has teamed up with Local Harvest, a national listing for sustainable food purveyors, to create a listing service to help niche-oriented processors and producers find each other. Listing is free, searching is free.
What’s Local Harvest?
From the Local Harvest website:
Local Harvest is Americas #1 organic and local food website. We maintain a definitive and reliable living public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Our search engine helps people find products from family farms, local sources of sustainably grown food, and encourages them to establish direct contact with small farms in their local area. Our online store helps small farms develop markets for some of their products beyond their local area.
How to list your meat processing business
1. Go to the Local Harvest sign-up page
2. Choose “other,” fill in your contact info, create a password, and click create a listing.
3. You will see the “where do I begin” page: click “next.”
4. Fill in your location/mailing address and whether you have a CSA (some processors do).
5. Check the “Meat Processor” check box.
6. Keep your business description simple: the next page will ask you many detailed questions about services you offer. Click next.
7. You will be asked about the following:
- Inspection status
- Species processed
- Slaughter services
- Weekly Capacity
- Processing services
- Packaging and shipping services
8. The rest of the listing process is the same for all businesses and includes the ability to upload a photo and list events.
How to search for a meat processor near you
Go to www.localharvest.org and search for meat processor, slaughter, and other relevant keywords. These keywords may bring up other, non-processing businesses; to narrow your search, include quotes around meat processor (though this may exclude some listings.)
What do you think?
Tell us how we can make this service better: email NMPAN Coordinators