Infrastructure Support for Small Livestock Processing Facilities

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $46,796.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jane Boles
Montana State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research


    Alterations in food safety requirements challenge the ability of small processors to remain sustainable. New requirements from USDA require small and very small meat processors to validate food safety processes. Small processors do not have the technical skills to conduct validation studies to meet the new requirements.

    Six processors had E. coli O157:H7 interventions currently being used in plant validated and four plants had generic validation of Fully Cooked Not Shelf-stable HACCP plans. There is a reduction in all plants when the intervention is applied or cooking is done.

    Project objectives:

    This grant is a post-subregional conference grant and not the standard education grant. The proposal requirements did not have an objectives/performance category.

    Goals of the Project

    A growing number of consumers desire to buy locally grown and processed. Changes in inspection rules challenge the abilities of small processors to remain competitive and sustainable. These small processors are crucial to increased production of locally grown and processed foods. Working hand-in-hand with ranchers, this local movement strengthens the competitiveness of the local producers. This project will help strengthen the infrastructure of the small local processors and help local ranchers fill the consumer demand for local products.

    The production of products for sale locally helps to improve the local economy by allowing the producer and the processor to capture part of money normally sent out of state when calves and lambs are sent to the Midwest to finish and harvest. It has been estimated that every job added to the agricultural sector results in almost 100 jobs in allied fields. Improvement in job opportunities for local ranchers and meat processors would result in increased local job opportunities in other sectors, thus increasing the sustainability of rural communities.

    Demand for locally produced product is increasing, but it is essential that these producers and processors put food safety first. Companies that cannot produce safe product will not survive in the new market place. Consumers are starting to vote with their food dollars; in 2006 less than 10% of the consumers stopped buying products because of food safety scares. In contrast, over 30% of consumers stopped buying a product because there were questions about its safety in 2007. For ranchers and small meat processors to succeed in the local market they must produce a safe food product. This project will give the processors the tools to monitor microbiology on meat products to help insure the safety of products produced. The processors will also have the documentation and written processes to satisfy requirements of inspection.

    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.