Meat and Poultry Processing Alabama

Progress report for MPP24-001

Project Type: Meat and Poultry Processing
Funds awarded in 2024: $410,000.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Tuskegee University
Region: National
Lead State: Alabama
Project Leader:
Dr. Clarissa Harris
Tuskegee University
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Project Information


The closure of many of the large meat packing plants for even a few days during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic led to supply chain disruptions that lasted for weeks. Since those initial closures, even slight disturbances trigger reactive panic buying scenarios amongst consumers. These transient disruptions have also, ironically, fostered the resurgence of the small meat packing industry and increased farm-direct marketing opportunities for small producers. As the brick and mortar on new facilities dries and operations come online, a common issue they face is the barrage of new customers (producers) unfamiliar with the farm-direct process. Meanwhile, many of these processors are new to the industry or scaling-up themselves which has exposed a data and training gap among producers, processors, and extension agents, which threatens the short- and long-term success of this sector. Our team of experts in livestock extension, facility management, meat processing, and agricultural economics allows for a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach. Our overarching goal is to improve the long-term viability and productivity for farm-direct meat producers and processors in this space by providing them the necessary data and resources to support their operations. Given the critical need for the reputable data and training , this project will provide valuable data for the target audiences and educate these stakeholders on the processes, pitfalls, and potentials of farm-direct marketing. We will work with our partners in the Meat and Poultry Technical Assistance program as well as our network of 1890 institutions who serve a variety of limited resource and underserved producers and processors. These include the American Meat Science Association, the North American Meat Institute, and AAMP. We will also work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) and other groups who work directly with the target audiences to recruit participants and disseminate resources. 

Project Objectives:

1)Develop a system of best practices and science-based tutorials to improve producer-processor relationships. 

2. Develop a workforce training academy and apprenticeship program to train a competent and capable workforce to lead burgeoning meat and poultry processing sector. 

3. Develop and implement training workshops focusing on the relationships, concepts, and considerations required for an effective farm-direct meat processing pipeline. 

4. Empower and support a network of processors, producers, and co-operatives to maximize the efficiency of the farm-direct meat pipeline in outlying years.


Training programs:

We will be conducting meat and poultry training programs and courses that are based on findings from roundtable discussions. 

In person meetings:

The in person meetings will take place throughout the calendar year and it will also include a conference that will be announced at a later date. 

Educational products:

We will create a series of handouts and a cater the documents to the client list needs.  

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Conferences
45 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 Journal articles
2 Demonstrations
5 Online trainings
1 Published press articles, newsletters
2 Study circle/focus groups
2 Tours
5 Travel Scholarships
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

25 Farmers/ranchers/processors participated
10 Ag professionals participated

Project Outcomes

7 Farmers/ranchers/processors/service providers intend/plan to change their practice(s)
Key practices changed:
    5 New working collaborations
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.