Thursday, April 1, 2010

Farmers: Why are you not angry?

I’ve become quite frustrated lately. I work hard for farmers every day, literally 18hrs (many times longer), 7 days per week, 364 (I take Christmas day off, mostly) per year. Even when I’m not physically in the meat shop, my brain is buzzing with ideas and opportunities to better my neighbor farmers bottom line and quality/value of life.  I work to teach them how to grab more dollar for their farm. This takes on many forms.  I might note that I also have a farm and cattle, horses, and a couple of goats to tend to…

• How to turn that cull calf, heifer, cow, bull, non breeder, etc... into a gain rather than a loss

• How the seedstock farmer can make gains from bull calves during the downed market

• How the dairy farmer can convert grass into cash with bull calves

• How the small farmer can hold onto their farm through direct marketing both meat & livestock

• How the pig farmer can turn culls into value added meats

• How the tobacco farmer can diversify into alternative livestocks like sheep, goat, and rabbit on minimal land.

• Meat education, what cuts are best from their particular animal, how best to age the carcass and when not to.

• Services for livestock processing for your personal families use, USDA services to allow them to re-sell their meats direct to the public or HRI, value added services for specialty meats to add greater value to their bottom line, custom processing with value added processing for the hunter.

• Private branding, graphics design, consultation, website development, marketing insight, cattle management, feeding tips….

• I work with my local county cattleman’s association to educate farmers on regulatory changes that will affect their farms and the services that I can provide for them. (I.e. Downer ban, CMPAF FDA enhanced feed ban, etc…)

• Not to mention that I literally support several farmers of various species of livestock through purchase of their animals at above market prices. I put my money where my mouth is!

That’s just a small sampling of what I do for the farmer on a daily basis. I work for you, the farmer.

So I have to ask myself, why are you not angry? Why have you forsaken us?

This is the most drastic change to HACCP since its inception. In one swoosh of the regulatory pen; USDA can take all of that away from you. These validation issues are literally putting every single bit of that at risk. The repercussions are dire. The mounting costs to operate a facility such as ours are already a burden. Most of which I realize that you do not understand. With added changes pending, this will be a financial burden that I and hundreds of plants like ours across the US will not be able to bare.

Who are we to pass these added costs along too? By costs, I mean literally $50,000 to $100’s of thousands of dollars depending on the services offered at that particular independent facility.

In my opinion (shared by hundreds of independent processors across the US), this is a systematic approach to eliminate the already dying breed of independents that work for you! And to make matters worse, this does not improve the food safety of our country’s meat supply. It only further consolidates it. Also important to note: All the major organizations and associations are opposed to this pending change.

Are we really that unappreciated? Is all my work for naught? Do you really worry more about HSUS than us and those like me across the US?

I ask you…why are you not angry? Why are you not standing up for us? Why are you not spreading the word? Have you even bothered to tell your local STATE or USDA inspected processor who likely does NOT even know this bombshell is coming? Will you not stand up for us? Why?

AAMP has requested an extension to the comment period, but have not gotten any written grant of extension. Therefore, it is strongly advising that comments be submitted by April 19, 2010. Individuals wishing to comment should submit comments to the email address or to the Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705. After April 19th, FSIS will begin its review on the comments it receives and its process of deciding how it will proceed with respect to the validation of HACCP systems.
-Source: AAMP

For further information, please attend #meatcamp tonight on twitter. You may also find valuable information at these following links.

NAMP (pdf)
Penn State: Dr. Chris Raines @iTweetMeat – Do You Feel Validated?

Will YOU not act?

UPDATE: The comment period for this draft guidance material has been extended until June 19.  Don't let the time expire!  Share your comments and let your voice be heard.

There has also been a FaceBook Group created for information sharing, questions, etc...  Please join, No butcher,No Meat! here.