Small- and medium-sized livestock producers have limited access to meat slaughter and processing facilities. When recent COVID-19 outbreaks forced large slaughter and processing operations to shut down, smaller facilities became inundated with requests to process animals diverted from the large plants. These events exposed a processing bottleneck for small- and medium-scale operators that many say has existed since long before the COVID outbreak. In this project proposal, Minnesota livestock producers, the UMN’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, and the UMN College of Design plan to develop and facilitate a stakeholder design process that brings together a diverse group of livestock producers to work through recent challenges, bring clarity to the complex barriers to slaughter and processing access, and propose solutions. The proceedings will be recorded to develop outreach materials that will target livestock producing and processing stakeholders and lawmakers in order to inform policy and programming. The process will involve a diverse group of participants including pasture-based livestock farmers, farmers and consumers of halal products, and tribal livestock producers, woman operated farms, and emerging farmers in order to broadly encapsulate the proposed solutions to be beneficial to Minnesota farmers from various communities and cultures.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Convene stakeholders from small-scale pasture based and organic grazing operations; halal livestock producers and processors; and tribal livestock producers
- Build cross-cultural relationships in Greater MN through problem solving
- Conduct design process where stakeholders collaborate to define problems facing livestock production and processing and identify creative solutions
- Utilize a graphic illustrator to document meeting proceedings innovatively, and informatively, and in a format that is accessible to a broad audience
- Increased understanding of and strategies for access to meat slaughter and processing
- Generate a compelling summary of design solutions targeted toward community decision makers, MDA staff, academics, and the private sector