The Local Slaughter
Should New Hampshire resurrect the in-state meat and poultry inspection service it abandoned more than three decades ago?
The issue has emerged in the past few years as a number of smaller meat and poultry farms have sprouted up throughout the state. Later today, the Senate will likely pass House Bill 339, which would establish a meat inspection services administrator.
The hunt for local food
According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, 23 states have given up their meat and poultry protection program in the past four decades — as New Hampshire did in 1978. A Nashua Telegraph story by David Brooks from last August focused on the challenges of a state having only one federally certified slaughterhouse with inspection capability.
State veterinarian Stephen Crawford, whose office would oversee the state inspection service, said in the story that “the increase in interest for locally raised meat and poultry has created an enormous opportunity for New Hampshire farmers. The most significant limitation to filling the demand for meat other than poultry is a distinct lack of access to local slaughter facilities.”
Making it pay (for itself)
Establishing the program is one thing, but providing enough funding to get a viable service up and running may be an issue. House Bill 339, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Harding (D-Lebanon) establishes a meat inspection fund. But, it only appropriates $1 through June 30, 2012. Supporters believe the program will become more than self-sustaining through fees, fines and other grants and donations. The cost for inspection services will start at $50 for a cow, $10 for a turkey or rabbit and $5 for a chicken.
House Bill 339 had bipartisan sponsorship and passed the House by a voice vote in March. The bill already made it through one round of Senate vetting before being resubmitted (as all spending bills do) to the Senate Finance Committee, which gave it a unanimous recommendation for passage.
>> Wednesday, May 4, full Senate session vote on HB 339 and more than 60 other bills and amendments. Senate Chambers at the State House, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
This Daily Briefing was written by Michael McCord.