State facing higher meat inspection costs

VERMONT — When Bill Thompson completed his new Springfield slaughterhouse last year to dress quail from his farm, he hoped he had a winning bet.

The cachet of the Vermont name combined with the growth in the sale of such specialty poultry — including to California restaurants — is building his business, Cavendish Game Birds, Thompson said.

But an unusual problem has cropped up. Unlike federal law which exempts game birds from inspection, California state law requires that such meat entering its borders must be inspected. And unlike with most meat inspections, which are funded by the state or federal government, Thompson may have to pay inspectors to come to his factory, a former restaurant in Springfield.

What started out as a "backyard project" is now growing.

"We are trying to do something different and it is working," said Thompson, who is in business with his brother. "We are getting in some great restaurants across the country."

But the cost of hiring inspectors would be a drain on the business, Thompson said.

"We have a small outfit here, so that would add up," he said.

Slaughterhouses are one of the most important — and often overlooked — pieces of agriculture infrastructure, especially in Vermont where the vast majority of farming ventures involve animals, Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr said. Not only meat producers but dairymen also use slaughterhouses, and farmers have to pay their own trucking bills if they have to use such plants out of state.

Source: Rutland Herald
calendar icon 8 May 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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