As we enter the post-pandemic era, an issue facing many industries is labor shortages in the United States, and the meat processing industry is no different. Twenty-seven state agriculture departments operate meat and poultry inspection programs that allow agriculture departments to be in a unique position to hear the needs of meat producers and processors to improve meat processing capacity.
With fewer workers and an increase in demand, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture hears from the farm to the packhouse that innovative solutions must be found to ensure the long-term health of agriculture. ‘industry.
In 2021, NASDA successfully worked with the USDA to support meat processors through the ever-changing challenges of the pandemic, but today NASDA is focused on finding a workforce. sustainable work for the industry.
Beyond labor supply, ensuring workers have the training and tools they need to efficiently produce safe, high-quality meat is essential. NASDA advocated for funding for the Meat and Poultry Processing Workforce Development Program and the Meat and Poultry Workforce Technical Assistance Program. USDA, which provide technical assistance and workforce training and development.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture recently hosted a meeting to bring together representatives from the beef packing industry, livestock transporters, national and state livestock industry associations, renderers, state and federal animal health agencies and universities from 11 states to discuss how the industry can better prepare for unexpected challenges.
Seeing the need for a sustainable and skilled workforce, state departments of agriculture have implemented innovative solutions.
During the pandemic, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Oklahoma CareerTech have partnered to establish a meat processing training program in response to the ever-growing need for development labor in the meat processing industry.
“Food processing in Oklahoma has never stopped during the pandemic,” says Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture and Chairman of NASDA’s Animal Agriculture Committee. “Partnering with Oklahoma CareerTech to establish in-industry training protects the future of the food processing industry. The meat processing workforce training program, including a Mobile Meat, and the accompanying online courses, provide an exceptional opportunity for our state’s agriculture industry to add highly skilled people to the food processing workforce.
Additionally, the Iowa Legislature has adopted the recommendations of the Small-Scale Butchery Task Force, an initiative led by Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. The task force was tasked with exploring the feasibility of creating an artisanal butchery program at community colleges or at Iowa State University to help address worker shortages and other barriers to opening or expanding a small meat processing plant. The idea for the task force follows the successful use of CARES Act-funded meat processing expansion and development grants.
“The pandemic has disrupted the supply chain, increased interest in meat lockers and small-scale processors, and drawn intense attention to local foods. We immediately started looking for ways to help them with their capacity challenges,” says Naig. “To help existing meat processors grow and find ways to build new businesses, our task force has considered issues ranging from workforce training and educational programs to regulatory barriers and opportunities. to better market their products. There’s a lot of optimism about the future here in Iowa.”
Source: National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, who is solely responsible for the information provided and fully owns it. Informa Business Media and all of its affiliates are not responsible for any content contained in this information asset.