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Northeast SARE Connecticut Professional Development Projects

Producing Natural Local Meat for Consumers


Abstract: Important concerns regarding food safety, farm preservation and farm viability has stimulated renewed interest in the production of local food. The project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

Project performance targets will include educational events on sustainable grazing practices, creating a tri-state sustainable foods working group, conducting a tri-state survey of meat producers, demonstrations of successful marketing techniques, and a farmer owned fully inspected, stationary and/or mobile meat processing cooperative.

Consumers will benefit from the availability of locally grown natural meats. Farmers will benefit from selling their meat directly to consumers. A ripple effect will be increased utilization and preservation of farm land in Southern New England.

Tri-State Project P.I.s

Project Coordinator

Grazing Schools

Participants in a pasturing/grazing presentation at Millstone Farm in Wilton, CT August 2009

The first project grazing school was conducted at UCONN Torrington Branch in May 2009. Presentations covered basic grazing techniques, USDA programs for grazing, SARE farmer grants, mobile abattoirs for meat producers and a pasture plant identification exercise.

A second grazing school in August 2009 at Millstone Farm in Wilton, CT was cosponsored with CT NOFA. The program included presentations on soil testing and organic amendments, an educational tour of the pastures, a demonstration of the effects of various mowing or clipping heights on pasture regrowth, and information on how to identify different pasture species and about their values for livestock.

Temple Grandin Presentations

Dr. Temple Grandin with students at UMASS farm on March 2, 2010

On March 1-4, 2010 the project sponsored a day visit to each of the universities in the region by Dr. Temple Grandin, notable expert in the humane treatment of animals. Dr. Grandin spoke to a sellout group of consumers and farmers at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. At the three universities, she lectured to student classes, met with faculty and students and cooperative extension personnel, and visited each of the university farms. More than 800 farmers, students, faculty, and agricultural service providers participated in these lectures, discussions and farm visits with Dr. Grandin.

Engaging the Agricultural Community – Responses to Temple Grandin Presentations

Survey of Meat Producers

A first year project activity was a survey of meat producers in the three states, an electronic survey designed by the project team and conducted during February and March 2009. The survey was sent to 285 farmers and a total of 117 responses were received. The SARE Project Team will use information from the survey to design future training and technical assistance activities for providers throughout the region.

Overall 75% of respondents were part-time farmers. There are significantly fewer part- time farmers in MA (53%) than in CT (87%) or RI (94%). The high incidence of part- time farmers has implications for how and when meetings are scheduled, e.g., holding meetings on evenings and weekends instead of during regular business hours.

More than 7 in 10 farmers reported they would expand their business if they had better access to a USDA inspected slaughter facility. Notably, 9 in 10 respondents believe their land will remain in farming, pasture or grazing beyond the next 10 years, however, only about half of them have a plan in place to make sure that will happen.

More than 60% of farmers said they would be interested in a farmer-owned cooperative business for inspected slaughter and processing and nearly 70% respondents expressed interest in a fully inspected mobile slaughter facility.

Ninety percent of the respondents feed animals using pasture or pasture and browse while fewer than 10% of them use farm pasture as 100% of their feed.

Overall farmers market their meat product by direct sales of inspected processed meat and by live animal sale to the consumer in equal proportions, 58%. However, there are notable differences in the prevalence of the top two marketing approaches by state. In Connecticut 80% of respondents market through live animal sale to the consumer; only 46% by direct sale of inspected processed meat. In Massachusetts it is the opposite: 77% by direct sale of processed inspected meat and only 37% by live animal sale to the consumer. These two approaches are about equally used in Rhode Island. The high rate of live animal sales in Connecticut correlates with the lack of USDA inspected slaughter and/or processing facilities in the state.

Most respondents were positive on the idea of participating in a local/regional farmer cooperative approach to marketing. Overall half of respondents indicated they thought their customers prefer local meat because "Local meat means you know your producer."

Survey of Livestock Producers in Southern New England 2009

Nutrition's Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices

A workshop series for agricultural service providers and farmers on nutrition and its direct link to the health and well-being of animals


Upcoming Project Workshops:

Friday, May 18, 2018 
Basic animal nutrition concepts and their ties to animal health

Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sustainably feeding animals and use of body condition scoring for evaulation

Tuesday July 31, 2018
Animal health and diseases related to nutrition

All workshops held from 9 am to 1 pm in the training room at Farm Credit East, 240 S Rd. Enfield, CT

Field training workshop dates to be announced soon!

Click below for the program 

2018 SARE Workshops

Click below to register

Register here for any or all workshops

Upcoming Agricultural Events

Maximizing Income over Feed Costs in 2018

A forage based discussion group (all species welcome) will meet monthly at a different farm for a farm
walk/topics review.
Contact Joyce Meader
860-774-9600 x.17

CLICK here for complete Forage Series Event Flyer