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Trouble Ahead for Wild Game Processors?

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April 27, 2010

Trouble Ahead for Wild Game Processors?

By Chad Love

Hunting is a perfect fit for the newfound popularity and acceptance of the slow food/locavore movement, but could new proposed USDA testing requirements have an adverse effect on small meat processors who also process wild game? Maybe, according to this story on Salon. It doesn't mention wild game specifically, but many small meat processing plants also process many hunters' deer.

From the story:

That wailing you hear in the distance is the sound of small meat processors begging the USDA for mercy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service recently proposed a set of new regulations that will require all meat processors to submit their products to a new series of tests, a procedure that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for even a modestly scaled operation, enough to cripple many small processors.

Your thoughts? How many of you process your own big game or buy local beef, pork or chicken?

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jscottevans wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

We process our own game. But I still don't like how this will affect local shops that provide an honest service to make a decent living. I thought big government was suppose to help us?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I really like the local guy, but I do know how to do it myself. Maybe time to invest in a meet hanging freezer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JB101 wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

This happened in Canada a few years back. A good friend of mine owns a meat cutting shop. As part of the new regs, he is now forced to submit samples of everything he makes for testing and have labels made containing the nutritional information. While the regs on wild game for personal consumption are a bit more relaxed, they are not allowed to use the same equipment to cut domestic beef and pork. For this reason, I don't think he does the domestic stuff anymore.

Thankfully he still has a healthy market for wild meat cutting, but others in the area have been hit hard.

We also used to have pot-luck wild game suppers put on by the Fish & Game Association until the province made it illegal to serve wild meat to the public.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spiaailtli wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I process my own so I don't have to pay $4.00 per pound to have it processed. These smaller shops need to be checked to make sure they are complying with the law, but $100k is a bit much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I normaly process my own game but have used a couple of processors when time was an issue. Hate to see these handy operations having to shut down because of this. Safety is needed but is this going too far? Guess we'll be processing all of our game soon. Underhanded tactics maybe involved here?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mfox wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I process all of the big game I harvest. But there are several small processors in my area that I know make much of their living on the wild game that is brought to their lockers. This is an interesting article. I wonder how this will all play out, and if it will become even harder for the "little man" to make a living.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I typically do my own, but if you want more "products" than cuts and ground it makes a lot of sense to go to the processors and I would like them to be free to accept my business. It's already a problem to find a processor during archery season due to lack of demand because they need to shut down their handling of domestic animals when dealing with wild game. I find it odd that the current administration, one that shows the First Lady going to the local fresh produce garden-market, would propose new testing that could impact small scale operations. This would seem to be right up there with the National Animal Identification System in threatening small local markets. On one hand, we push that our big food industry, though efficient, isn't necessarily the healthiest practice. Due to that we end up with more burdensome regulations for issues that aren't typically a problem with smaller operations. My flock of 11 laying hens are not medicated (though were given thier chick starter medication) in any way, but have had no health issues. Big flocks need big elaborate oversight. My hens need sufficient room and fresh air, not federal registration.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

Sounds like a "Gee we can't take their guns and ammo but we can take their butcher away" scam to me. It doesn't affect me one bit though as I process all my wild game right at home, it's so easy a caveman could do it, that and it puts the fear of god into my daughters boyfriends to watch me boning out a hindquarter at the kitchen table! Ha! Ha! ha!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I guess that I will have to signup for the class on 'deboning' that I saw in one of the local upscale food markets.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

screw the Feds. they are forever trying to put small operations out of business. thank goodness i learned to butcher my own years ago, although i have relied on a processor to do sausages and a couple elk in the past few years.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blackdawgz wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I used to be a Federal Executive.

Although this could be helpful in controlling CWD, I doubt that this is the primary objective.

It is just that this would be the first time there was not a hidden agenda.

The government appears to be in the business of robbing the politically helpless, creating money pots, and misappropriating the funds.

Look at Social Security.

By law, that was never to have been raided.

Now, after bailing out financial giants after their own misbehavior, Social Security is almost flat broke.

I saw a news article last week that said it would "probably not impact benefits this year."

This, on the heels of eliminating the non-taxable status of non-profits.

This was done unannounced, a few years ago, hidden in another bit of legislation, with a delayed fuse.

The government is in a runaway mode.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from rms_399 wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

This is just another example of big government imposing useless and over-reaching regulations onto the smaller companies in order to give the large processors an unfair market advantage. I LOATHE the fact that the USDA has so much of big business in mind when it comes to these kinds of regulations. This is why we process our own game, we buy local hogs and chicken, and we do NOT buy beef unless it is from a local farmer that processes at a local facility; we also make sure we are buying produce directly from the farmers instead of the stores.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

I learned at a young age all about processing domestic animals,and wild game,glad I know these things now.
Around here,this will likely put some smaller operations out of buisiness,and could even stop some from hunting,a lot of guys around here(and gals) do not know how to process their own.
I have taught quite a few people I know how to bone out deer,and what cuts to make from which part of the animal,how to make jerky,sausages,ect.
I worked 20+ years as a professional chef,so I know all about sanitation practices. We cut our own meat in most places I worked.(mainly private country clubs).
As Walt Smith said,boning out a hindquarter at the kitchen table has a wonderful effect on daughters boyfriends faces,the look is priceless!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rtm27 wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

I'm a self-taught bow hunter who didn't get into hunting until I was 30. I still have a lot to learn, and game processing is on my list. I live in an urban area, however, where hunting is about as socially acceptable as farting during a prayer in church. Plus, I live in a townhouse with neither garage nor basement space for processing game. If I didn't have the option of using a processor, that would have been one more obstacle in the way of me getting into the sport. Hunting has blessed my life in ways I couldn't have imagined before, so I am grateful that having to learn the art of game processing didn't stand in my way of taking up the sport.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 3 years 49 weeks ago

rtm, I previously did my breaking down in the garage. For the first time last year I broke my deer down in the dining room. Covered the table and went to town. was easier, more comfortable, more sanitary, and as a shocking side benefit my wife decided to run the grinder while I was cutting. If you're just looking for simple cuts, it's a simple process. You don't have to be a butcher. I've gotten mildly more conscious of where I was cutting what cuts from, but first time it was tenderloins/steaks/cubes and ground. Now i tend to put the backstraps aside as well. It wasn't the work of an artisan, but it was simple and effective as well as free. Your state and this website likely has a simple how to and diagrams of cuts. Go for it, just keep it clean. And make sure you cut off the tarsal glands with a different knife than your cleaning knife. I tend to do that in the field.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from blackdawgz wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I used to be a Federal Executive.

Although this could be helpful in controlling CWD, I doubt that this is the primary objective.

It is just that this would be the first time there was not a hidden agenda.

The government appears to be in the business of robbing the politically helpless, creating money pots, and misappropriating the funds.

Look at Social Security.

By law, that was never to have been raided.

Now, after bailing out financial giants after their own misbehavior, Social Security is almost flat broke.

I saw a news article last week that said it would "probably not impact benefits this year."

This, on the heels of eliminating the non-taxable status of non-profits.

This was done unannounced, a few years ago, hidden in another bit of legislation, with a delayed fuse.

The government is in a runaway mode.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jscottevans wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

We process our own game. But I still don't like how this will affect local shops that provide an honest service to make a decent living. I thought big government was suppose to help us?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

Sounds like a "Gee we can't take their guns and ammo but we can take their butcher away" scam to me. It doesn't affect me one bit though as I process all my wild game right at home, it's so easy a caveman could do it, that and it puts the fear of god into my daughters boyfriends to watch me boning out a hindquarter at the kitchen table! Ha! Ha! ha!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from prairieghost wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

screw the Feds. they are forever trying to put small operations out of business. thank goodness i learned to butcher my own years ago, although i have relied on a processor to do sausages and a couple elk in the past few years.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rms_399 wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

This is just another example of big government imposing useless and over-reaching regulations onto the smaller companies in order to give the large processors an unfair market advantage. I LOATHE the fact that the USDA has so much of big business in mind when it comes to these kinds of regulations. This is why we process our own game, we buy local hogs and chicken, and we do NOT buy beef unless it is from a local farmer that processes at a local facility; we also make sure we are buying produce directly from the farmers instead of the stores.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I really like the local guy, but I do know how to do it myself. Maybe time to invest in a meet hanging freezer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JB101 wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

This happened in Canada a few years back. A good friend of mine owns a meat cutting shop. As part of the new regs, he is now forced to submit samples of everything he makes for testing and have labels made containing the nutritional information. While the regs on wild game for personal consumption are a bit more relaxed, they are not allowed to use the same equipment to cut domestic beef and pork. For this reason, I don't think he does the domestic stuff anymore.

Thankfully he still has a healthy market for wild meat cutting, but others in the area have been hit hard.

We also used to have pot-luck wild game suppers put on by the Fish & Game Association until the province made it illegal to serve wild meat to the public.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spiaailtli wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I process my own so I don't have to pay $4.00 per pound to have it processed. These smaller shops need to be checked to make sure they are complying with the law, but $100k is a bit much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I normaly process my own game but have used a couple of processors when time was an issue. Hate to see these handy operations having to shut down because of this. Safety is needed but is this going too far? Guess we'll be processing all of our game soon. Underhanded tactics maybe involved here?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mfox wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I process all of the big game I harvest. But there are several small processors in my area that I know make much of their living on the wild game that is brought to their lockers. This is an interesting article. I wonder how this will all play out, and if it will become even harder for the "little man" to make a living.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I typically do my own, but if you want more "products" than cuts and ground it makes a lot of sense to go to the processors and I would like them to be free to accept my business. It's already a problem to find a processor during archery season due to lack of demand because they need to shut down their handling of domestic animals when dealing with wild game. I find it odd that the current administration, one that shows the First Lady going to the local fresh produce garden-market, would propose new testing that could impact small scale operations. This would seem to be right up there with the National Animal Identification System in threatening small local markets. On one hand, we push that our big food industry, though efficient, isn't necessarily the healthiest practice. Due to that we end up with more burdensome regulations for issues that aren't typically a problem with smaller operations. My flock of 11 laying hens are not medicated (though were given thier chick starter medication) in any way, but have had no health issues. Big flocks need big elaborate oversight. My hens need sufficient room and fresh air, not federal registration.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 3 years 51 weeks ago

I guess that I will have to signup for the class on 'deboning' that I saw in one of the local upscale food markets.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ohiodeerhunter wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

I learned at a young age all about processing domestic animals,and wild game,glad I know these things now.
Around here,this will likely put some smaller operations out of buisiness,and could even stop some from hunting,a lot of guys around here(and gals) do not know how to process their own.
I have taught quite a few people I know how to bone out deer,and what cuts to make from which part of the animal,how to make jerky,sausages,ect.
I worked 20+ years as a professional chef,so I know all about sanitation practices. We cut our own meat in most places I worked.(mainly private country clubs).
As Walt Smith said,boning out a hindquarter at the kitchen table has a wonderful effect on daughters boyfriends faces,the look is priceless!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rtm27 wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

I'm a self-taught bow hunter who didn't get into hunting until I was 30. I still have a lot to learn, and game processing is on my list. I live in an urban area, however, where hunting is about as socially acceptable as farting during a prayer in church. Plus, I live in a townhouse with neither garage nor basement space for processing game. If I didn't have the option of using a processor, that would have been one more obstacle in the way of me getting into the sport. Hunting has blessed my life in ways I couldn't have imagined before, so I am grateful that having to learn the art of game processing didn't stand in my way of taking up the sport.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 3 years 49 weeks ago

rtm, I previously did my breaking down in the garage. For the first time last year I broke my deer down in the dining room. Covered the table and went to town. was easier, more comfortable, more sanitary, and as a shocking side benefit my wife decided to run the grinder while I was cutting. If you're just looking for simple cuts, it's a simple process. You don't have to be a butcher. I've gotten mildly more conscious of where I was cutting what cuts from, but first time it was tenderloins/steaks/cubes and ground. Now i tend to put the backstraps aside as well. It wasn't the work of an artisan, but it was simple and effective as well as free. Your state and this website likely has a simple how to and diagrams of cuts. Go for it, just keep it clean. And make sure you cut off the tarsal glands with a different knife than your cleaning knife. I tend to do that in the field.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment