California Meat Summit

September 05, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

California Meat Summit

Kathryn Quanbeck

On March 27, local ranchers, Cooperative Extension staff, city and county officials, and others gathered in Placerville, CA for the 2013 California Meat Summit.  Sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension- Placer and Nevada Counties as well as the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts and organized by Roger Ingram (UCCE Livestock Advisor for Placer and Nevada Counties) the day provided an opportunity to discuss several recent RBEG-funded projects in California related to niche meat processing. 

Summit highlights included:

  • A useful spreadsheet producers can use to determine if value-added production is right for them;
  • Regulatory streamlining ideas to reduce the burden on small and very small processing plants;
  • Ideas for improving communication and collaboration between producers and processors;
  • Research on demand analysis for USDA inspected beef slaughter;
  • An interactive map of slaughter and processing facilities in California. 

The desire for additional processing facilities is a frequent conversation in California these days, so the Summit ended with a discussion on what producers would need to see before they invested in a local processing facility.  By the end of the conversation, we had a fairly extensive list for a “dream facility” – conveniently located, easy scheduling, high quality, experienced, tech-savvy, offering a wide variety of services at competitive prices. 

Even if all of these attributes could be promised, few raised their hands saying they would open their wallets to fund such a facility.  It was a real eye-opener for many in the room as to how difficult it is to get new processing facilities off the ground, particularly in California’s regulatory environment. 

All in all, the day provided a great opportunity for those researching the challenges of expanding processing capacity in various parts of the state to come together, share information and increase collaboration.   Discussions such as these may not have led to many new processors in California, but they have definitely strengthened existing businesses with several processors in Northern California in particular expanding their services. 

All of the Summit materials mentioned above can be found here. (For the spreadsheet and instructions, scroll down to "Producer Direct Marketing Meat Economic Analysis.")

Kathryn Quanbeck works with ranchers and meat processors on the challenges related to local meats processing. She recently started working part-time for NMPAN as a project assistant.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.