Skip to Content

Agriculture / Commerce

Free Fecal Egg Counts Offered for Northeast Small Ruminant Producers

Related ATTRA Publication: Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Animal SelectionThrough the SARE project "New Approaches for Improving Integrated Parasite Control Strategies for Small Ruminants in the Northeast," the University of…

Rice Farmers Sell First Carbon Credits

Seven rice farmers who implemented conservation measures that reduced methane emissions generated carbon credits that were sold to Microsoft. Their story is featured in an NRCS interactive online story, "Nature's Stewards." The voluntary conservation…

Farming for the Future Conference Proposals Invited

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) invites innovative, instructive, and enthusiastic presenters to share their knowledge of and expertise in the best practices and strategies to promote profitable farms in producing healthy…

Farm Aid Festival Venue Announced

Farm Aid has announced that its 2017 concert will take place September 16 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, (near Pittsburgh). The event will include a full day of incredible music, HOMEGROWN Concessions® featuring family farm food, hands-on activities in…

White Paper on Increasing Agricultural Sustainability Through Organic Farming Released

The Organic Center has released a White Paper entitled Increasing Agricultural Sustainability Through Organic Farming, based on presentations and discussions at the 2016 Organic Confluences summit. The full 32-page report is available online and covers…

Rodale Institute Announces Organic Pioneer Award Recipients

Rodale Institute has announced the recipients to be honored at its 7th Annual Organic Pioneer Awards (OPA) dinner in September. The award recognizes a research scientist, farmer, and business that are leading the way to an organic planet. The 2017…

Video: Scouting Vegetable Crops: An Introduction for Farmers

eOrganic author:

Carmen Blubaugh, Washington State University

This eOrganic video on scouting vegetable crops was created by members of a project of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (NIFA OREI) entitled Biodiversity and Natural Pest Suppression (BAN-PestS). 

Video Transcript Introduction

What was the last crop you lost to a pest? When did you realize you had a problem? Many times we don’t know there is a problem until we are up close and personal with a crop. All too often that is at harvest.

Scouting is the routine monitoring of pest pressure in a crop. A scouting routine can help you identify problems in your field before they get out of control. In this video we will scout for cabbage aphid in brassica crops in the Pacific Northwest. However, the scouting principles and tips can apply to any crop or region.

What is Scouting?

Scouting is a systematic way to assess the health of your crop and threat of pest outbreaks without examining every plant. Scouting relies on sampling a subset of the field to collect data you can use to make informed management decisions. Scouting can reduce your inputs and crop losses, saving you money.

There are various tools used in scouting. The tool you will use depends on the crop and pest. Many pests must be trapped to monitor while others, such as cabbage aphid, can be observed on the crop without trapping. In this video we focus on visual observation, but many of the principles of scouting we cover will apply regardless of the scouting tool used.

To begin a scouting routine, start by researching the pests you are likely to observe and the corresponding beneficial insects. This information will help you identify which scouting tools are appropriate and when to begin scouting. Numerous extension resources are available that describe the community of pests associated with a particular crop in your area.

Scouting 101: Before Entering the Field

When you arrive at the field, commit your attention to scouting. Focus is required to capture signs of pests. First, make observations about the entire field. Look for areas that appear stunted or have a color variation. Notice any unique geographic features, such as a depression. These areas may have higher pest pressure. You will want to visit these areas.

Select a path through the field that will allow you to collect a random yet representative sample. One method is to travel through the field in a "w" pattern, selecting plants to sample randomly along that path. Adjust your path through the field to ensure you visit areas you have identified to be at higher risk for pest infestations. Record your path through the field so that on your next visit you can scout a different route. Each scouting trip, you will select a different random sample. On each scouting trip you may want to visit areas you suspect to have growing pest populations in addition to your random sample.

In the Field

When you reach your first sample, assess the plant overall and then start looking at the individual leaves. Look at both young and old leaves, and don’t forget to search both sides of the leaf. You will want to remove a few leaves for closer observation. Now look at any buds, flowers, or fruit. Depending on the potential pest, you may even use your harvest knife to cut open the stalk or unearth the plant so you can see the roots.

Record your observations and a numeric assessment of the pest. For example, a numeric assessment of cabbage aphid pressure is the average number of aphids per leaf. Select three leaves from different parts of the plant and record the number of aphids and aphid predators per leaf. Repeat for ten plants.

You will follow the same procedure each time you scout, but vary your path through the field and which plants you sample. Standardizing your collection method is necessary to accurately track pest pressure over time.

Calculate the average number of aphids and predators per leaf. Reviewing these averages from visit to visit allows you to determine whether or not the pest pressure is increasing, or if beneficial insects are effectively managing the pest. This information will allow you to determine if and when you need to take action to control the pest, in other words, your action threshold.

Your action threshold is the point at which you’ll experience economic loss if control measures are not pursued. Your action threshold depends on the cost of controlling the pest, the effectiveness of your control measure, the value of your particular crop, and the potential for the pest to cause damage that will impact your ability to sell the crop. These factors vary for different crops. For instance, tolerance for aphids may be higher on kale than broccoli since aphids can get into broccoli heads where they are protected from insecticide applications.

Action thresholds also change over time, as markets fluctuate. Ask your local extension educator for help identifying a recently published action threshold for your region and crop. Keep in mind that action thresholds are usually calculated without considering biological control by beneficial insects, and you may want to adjust your action threshold if you observe high rates of natural pest suppression.

Developing your Scouting Routine

Farming is a demanding occupation. To make sure scouting gets done, it is best to make scouting a habit. Tip: For best results, scout twice a week. For instance, you could dedicate lunchtime Tuesday to scouting a few fields. Keeping a bucket of scouting tools easily accessible can help facilitate regular scouting. Must-have scouting tools include a pencil, paper, clipboard, tally counter, and camera.

Pest emergence and growth are each temperature-dependent, and vary with each crop. Check local extension resources to determine approximately when pests in your crop system emerge, and initiate your scouting routine accordingly.

Scouting is an important practice to do on your farm that will definitely pay off. Check out the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook for up-to-date information on crop specific pests. There, you’ll find examples of action thresholds, local emergence times and other resources to help you prepare for and avoid pest outbreaks on your farm.
 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 22209

Disease Management in Organic Farming Systems

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T876

Organic Vegetable Production Systems

Organic Vegetable Production Systems, Disease Management in Organic Farming Systems

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T879,876

Organic Vegetable Production Systems, Insect Management in Organic Farming Systems

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic T879,878

Insect Management in Organic Farming Systems

Video: Scouting Vegetable Crops: An Introduction for Farmers

eOrganic author:

Carmen Blubaugh, Washington State University

This eOrganic video on scouting vegetable crops was created by members of a project of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (NIFA OREI) entitled Biodiversity and Natural Pest Suppression (BAN-PestS). 

Video Transcript Introduction

What was the last crop you lost to a pest? When did you realize you had a problem? Many times we don’t know there is a problem until we are up close and personal with a crop. All too often that is at harvest.

Scouting is the routine monitoring of pest pressure in a crop. A scouting routine can help you identify problems in your field before they get out of control. In this video we will scout for cabbage aphid in brassica crops in the Pacific Northwest. However, the scouting principles and tips can apply to any crop or region.

What is Scouting?

Scouting is a systematic way to assess the health of your crop and threat of pest outbreaks without examining every plant. Scouting relies on sampling a subset of the field to collect data you can use to make informed management decisions. Scouting can reduce your inputs and crop losses, saving you money.

There are various tools used in scouting. The tool you will use depends on the crop and pest. Many pests must be trapped to monitor while others, such as cabbage aphid, can be observed on the crop without trapping. In this video we focus on visual observation, but many of the principles of scouting we cover will apply regardless of the scouting tool used.

To begin a scouting routine, start by researching the pests you are likely to observe and the corresponding beneficial insects. This information will help you identify which scouting tools are appropriate and when to begin scouting. Numerous extension resources are available that describe the community of pests associated with a particular crop in your area.

Scouting 101: Before Entering the Field

When you arrive at the field, commit your attention to scouting. Focus is required to capture signs of pests. First, make observations about the entire field. Look for areas that appear stunted or have a color variation. Notice any unique geographic features, such as a depression. These areas may have higher pest pressure. You will want to visit these areas.

Select a path through the field that will allow you to collect a random yet representative sample. One method is to travel through the field in a "w" pattern, selecting plants to sample randomly along that path. Adjust your path through the field to ensure you visit areas you have identified to be at higher risk for pest infestations. Record your path through the field so that on your next visit you can scout a different route. Each scouting trip, you will select a different random sample. On each scouting trip you may want to visit areas you suspect to have growing pest populations in addition to your random sample.

In the Field

When you reach your first sample, assess the plant overall and then start looking at the individual leaves. Look at both young and old leaves, and don’t forget to search both sides of the leaf. You will want to remove a few leaves for closer observation. Now look at any buds, flowers, or fruit. Depending on the potential pest, you may even use your harvest knife to cut open the stalk or unearth the plant so you can see the roots.

Record your observations and a numeric assessment of the pest. For example, a numeric assessment of cabbage aphid pressure is the average number of aphids per leaf. Select three leaves from different parts of the plant and record the number of aphids and aphid predators per leaf. Repeat for ten plants.

You will follow the same procedure each time you scout, but vary your path through the field and which plants you sample. Standardizing your collection method is necessary to accurately track pest pressure over time.

Calculate the average number of aphids and predators per leaf. Reviewing these averages from visit to visit allows you to determine whether or not the pest pressure is increasing, or if beneficial insects are effectively managing the pest. This information will allow you to determine if and when you need to take action to control the pest, in other words, your action threshold.

Your action threshold is the point at which you’ll experience economic loss if control measures are not pursued. Your action threshold depends on the cost of controlling the pest, the effectiveness of your control measure, the value of your particular crop, and the potential for the pest to cause damage that will impact your ability to sell the crop. These factors vary for different crops. For instance, tolerance for aphids may be higher on kale than broccoli since aphids can get into broccoli heads where they are protected from insecticide applications.

Action thresholds also change over time, as markets fluctuate. Ask your local extension educator for help identifying a recently published action threshold for your region and crop. Keep in mind that action thresholds are usually calculated without considering biological control by beneficial insects, and you may want to adjust your action threshold if you observe high rates of natural pest suppression.

Developing your Scouting Routine

Farming is a demanding occupation. To make sure scouting gets done, it is best to make scouting a habit. For instance, you could dedicate lunchtime Tuesday to scouting a few fields. Keeping a bucket of scouting tools easily accessible can help facilitate regular scouting. Must-have scouting tools include a pencil, paper, clipboard, tally counter, and camera.

Pest emergence and growth are each temperature-dependent, and vary with each crop. Check local extension resources to determine approximately when pests in your crop system emerge, and initiate your scouting routine accordingly.

Scouting is an important practice to do on your farm that will definitely pay off. Check out the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook for up-to-date information on crop specific pests. There, you’ll find examples of action thresholds, local emergence times and other resources to help you prepare for and avoid pest outbreaks on your farm.
 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

eOrganic 22209

Meat Processing Equipment

What's on this page?

The right equipment can make a world of difference in a small meat processing facility.  On this page we have videos of several processors sharing their favorite pieces of equipment and processor-to-processor advice about equipment.

What do other processors buy? Any suggestions on what to get? 

Equipment Videos Chill Cell

Mike Satzow of North Country Smokehouse shows us their Chill Cell which cooks product and then chills it in the same unit.

Video of Chill Cell

 

Handcrank "Z" Linker

Richard Huettman of Acre Station Meat Farm shows us their Handcrank Z Linker which automatically cuts individual sausage links. Read more about Acre Station here.

Video of Handcrank Z Linker

 

Dip Tank for Heat-Shrinkable Vacuum Bags

Richard Huettman of Acre Station Meat Farm shows us their packaging equipment.  Read more about Acre Station here.

Video of "Pingpong" Packaging Equipment

 

Digi-Auto Wrap

Jim Mays of Mays Meats shows us their Digi-Auto Wrap machine, which automatically wraps trays and applies labels.  This machine is great for small plants with a retail outlet.

Video of Digi-Auto Wrap   Brine Injector

Uli Bennewitz of Weeping Radish Brewery and Butcher Shop shows us his brine injector.  This piece of equipment is used to inject brine and spices into cooked and smoked products.

Video of Brine Injector

 

Vacuum Tumbler

Richard Huettman of Acre Station Meat Farm shows us their 500 lb. vacuum tumbler.  The tumbler speeds up the brining process from several days to several hours.  Read more about Acre Station here.

Video of Vacuum Tumbler

 

Ergonomic Carcass Cutting- aka "The Beast" 

This machine, called "The Beast," holds and rotates carcasses giving processors an ergonomic way to cut primals off the carcass. It also lets you bone out a carcass without splitting it. 

 

Video of Ergonomic Carcass Cutting

 

Processor-to-Processor Equipment Advice

Our listserv is a great resource for answering your equipment questions.  Below are a few equipment-related conversations from the listserv: 

Table of Contents

Wellsaws

Water Activity Meter

Fat Analyzer

Sanitation Swabs

Rollstock Machines

POS System

Steam Boiler

Label Machines/ Inventory Management

Smokers

Rail Height

Scales 

Slicers

 

WELLSAWS

Question: We use 2 Jarvis Wellsaw 404's, which are good, but they keep breaking their gear drives, very annoying.  Does anyone have suggestions for a good alternative?  The Jarvis 444's are the obvious choice, but they are expensive and over twice the weight.  We also have a few sawzalls, but the cutting is not as precise and they aren't made for wet environments, and short out with regularity.

Answer: I would suggest you call Don at Equipment Distributing of America (402-592-9360).  We have his equipment (EFA brand saws) and have used it hard for the last 5 years and it has held up well.  If you tell him what you are using the saws for he will get you set up with the right equipment.  A tool balancer is a good way to offset the weight of the heavier saws.  They will cost you more than a well saw but a cheap saw that does not work isn’t much help.

 

WATER ACTIVITY METER

Question: We are doing some work on our retail establishment program and are wondering about firms that use water activity meters in-house.  Is anyone using one, what kind, and are they expensive to purchase or operate?  

Answer #1: Check out www.aqualab.com.  They are a leader in water activity measuring devices and provide lots of outreach to customers.  They are not cheap but I have only found one other company that offers a meter-- can't remember name right off hand.  I have been to some of Aqualab training it was very useful.

They have bench top meters and a portable handheld device too. 

Answer #2: Decagon Devices/Aqualab (same company) makes a portable one that costs $1500.00-$2,000.00, I think.  Get it. Anyone who manufactures a shelf stable meat product should have this as standard equipment because it is a very valuable instrument in the data it provides.  Average test time is about 5 minutes and it needs to be calibrated every day that it is used.  We use one all the time and have thought about upgrading but the portable model is reliable and easy to use anywhere in the plant.  In my opinion it is a very wise purchase/investment.

 

FAT ANALYZER

Question: Just wanting to check in with everyone about fat analyzers for ground beef. Who has experience with these for a smaller scale operation (a couple hundred lbs. of grind a day) and what brands do you prefer and why? Any specific models to stay away from or potential calibration issues? Below is a list of a few units I have researched a little, but feel free to offer up suggestions on these or any other units:

  • CEM ProFat Meat Analyzer
  • Univex FA-73 Fat Analyzer
  • DSC HFT 1000F

Answer #1: We use the Univex. We use it every week. Works fine for our needs. No major complaints. Simple operation and not overly expensive to purchase. Here's a post I did for our customers. Shows pics of the unit in action. http://johnscustommeats.blogspot.com/2012/01/fat-fun.html

Answer #2: We use the Univex.  Super easy and simple.  Well built and durable.

Answer #3:  I use the Univex FA-73. Sent it back to the company once for repair but no problems since. Very affordable and easy to work and read.

Answer #4: I hate to be the voice of dissent in this conversation but if accuracy is what you are looking for I would not recommend the Univex.

I did a fair amount of research on this a year ago and decided to go with the DSC instead.  It cost more but is more accurate in that it actually gives a digital read out of the fat content and is not subject to interpretation like the Univex.  I’ve used the Univex already and while it is durable it did not have the accuracy that we were looking for. 

The DSC is what we decided to go with and it works well but I’ll be honest that it bugs me that cooking a sample and measuring the grease run off is the popular way to measure fat content.

Plain and simple it is dumb, but until I find a biomedical expert to help me research my idea for a tester, we’ll have to settle for what we have.  I know that there are other options like Near Infrared technology but those options are expensive and appear to require a lot of calibration to remain accurate.

Answer #5: We use the Univex FA-73.  Works well for our needs.  We do 600 lbs. of ground a week.  No problems easy to use.

Answer #6: Accuracy point well taken, my biggest issue with these small samplers is just that  - small sample size, because:

  • If you only have a 1-2 ounce sample for 500+ lbs. of meat, how representative is that 1-2 oz.? It depends on how homogenous your grind is. So regular sampling is important throughout a run.
  • If you can only sample finished ground, and not trim, you’re already at your end product stage. It’s hard to add fat back in, and impossible to take it out (without grinding more).

After using a DSC HTF 2000 for a number of years, we found a used Anyl Ray fat sampler for a couple grand. It measures 13 lbs. of trim at a time, non-destructively. We grind 10,000 lbs. in a day, so this was a must for us.

Still, all this said, it is worth keeping things in perspective and not getting too over-the-top on accuracy, especially for very small plants: you can be 20% over on your fat, and be legally compliant with your label. So 90% lean/ 10% fat can really be up to 12% fat, and 85% lean/15% fat can really have up 18% fat, per 9 CFR 317.309(h)(5).  And you can be under on your fat as much as you want with no regulatory consequence.

 

 SANITATION SWABS

Question: We are considering purchasing a quick swab test kit for spot checking tabletops, work surfaces, machines, etc. as part of our SSOP program.  Some read presence of glucose, others read presence of proteins.  I would love some feedback - Do you find these kits effective? Useful?  Is there one kit type/manufacturer/source that you would recommend?  We are flying blind here - would love some input, either positive or negative.

Answer: A lot of people use Charm swabs.  Easy to learn, easy to use. http://www.charm.com/en/products/atp-hygiene-swabs.html

 

ROLLSTOCK MACHINES

Question: Any of you use a rollstock machine for small batches if you process for multiple farmers? Say you are making sausage for 5 farmers, ~100-200 lbs for each of them, and can run them through the rollstock one after another.

Another way to ask is what’s the minimum batch size for using rollstock, and can you easily segregate product from different farmers?

Everyone likes how rollstock packaging looks, but can a small plant really afford to have/use one?

Also, are there any decision trees or guides out there to help a processor choose the right packaging equipment for a given size/type of business?

Answer #1: Yes we use a rollstock for packaging small batches and multiple farmers.  The question of easy segregation is going to depend on the competency of the crew running it.

We use our rollstock every day and every product that we run on it would be considered a small batch.  The trick is good communication and some sort of break between batches.  We typically leave a whole advance cycle in between the different batches and the tags for each batch are passed down to the end and lined up as the product exits the machine.  The multiple options for regulating the machine speed also help to facilitate the smaller batches but for some products it also helps to stage it before it gets to the machine. 

I would suspect that most small processors that are running small batches aren’t going to have much in the way of real estate to put most Rollstock machines and the RA-200 from Rollstock, Inc (one of the smaller ones on the market) would be sufficient for the average processor’s needs.

Answer #2: There is no problem doing what you want to do with small batches, all you have to do is take a black marker and make a mark on the edge of last package and then start with the next order.  We have had a roll stock for a couple of years now and wouldn’t be without it. You won’t believe the time it saves. We don’t even start to package until we have 6-8 hogs cut because the machine is so fast. It does take some getting used to as you have to adjust your cutting a little and watch for sharp bones but you have to do that with vacuum pouches too.

Answer #3: With us it depends on the whole day production. If we only have 200 lbs. of bulk product (5-6 lbs.) we won't bother since on our machine being so large we would waste more film then what is required to the packaging. We do a fair amount of slicing bacon for farmers and we just leave a empty package to separate between each.

Answer #4: I liked the answers that have been posted so far, and found them helpful, as we ask ourselves this same question regularly.  The answers so far have looked at the question from an operational perspective.

The plant also needs to look at it from a financial perspective.  Here is a quick scenario:

Assume the dealer will finance the machine.  Say it cost $80,000, no money down, 4 year term, 5% interest then the monthly carry is $1,842.  Anyone can download a free amortization schedule and very easily play with this - change price, term, interest rate.  But the above is not far-fetched. (It does assume no money down, which may be unlikely!)

Your standard processing fee is what it is, and is unlikely to cover the additional carry.  But say you charge $.50/lb to process that sausage.  at 200 lbs/week/customer, with 5 customers doing it, that is 5 * 200 * $.5 = $500/week, or $2000 per month.  That is enough to pay the monthly carry for the machine.  However, some of those charges are needed to cover labor, spices, and rollstock plastic.  But you can do other things with the machine, such as pack a number of other cuts (Provided you have the necessary plates).  Is the extra speed and packaging quality worth the extra monthly costs?  Only if you have enough volume to support it.  The packaging quality will definitely attract customers to you, IF there is a robust packing economy in your area.  A big if in many parts of the country.

You need to run these scenarios before you pay.  Remember, the easiest person to lie to is yourself!

 

POS (Point of Sale) SYSTEM

Question: Hello, I'm looking for a PoS system for a retail meat market with a deli component. Anybody have ones they like or that I should avoid?

Answer #1: I've had a really bad experience with CounterPoint SQL  But I believe it is because of the support (or lack of) from the authorized agent.   So beware - it may be a great product but you have to buy it from a good source.

Answer #2: We just dropped a great deal of money on an all bells and whistles  Radiant system with CounterPoint SQL.  Have to be honest, at this stage - I am not sure it was worth it.  I think the way square are going (Starbucks just adopted them!!) and the apps you can get for modern tablets and phones... that is a very economical way of getting started. Despite our fancy computer, we all still navigate to paper records and orders and inventories - so, I'd suggest caution.

Answer #3: There is a company in Burnsville, MN called LPA Retail Systems check them out, I have not used it but know plants that do and like it.

Answer #4: The biggest key to a POS system is knowing what  you want from it and communicating that to the vendor. You need to be able to tell them what you want it to be able to do, but not in generalities. I have been using CounterPoint SQL for 5 or so years now. I used CounterPoint V7 before that. I will be the first to tell you it is not cheap, but what a good POS can do for  you is worth it. But as I said you must be able to communicate with the vendor your exact needs/desires and don't accept anything short of it. CounterPoint is my third POS system and I have had my trials with it also, but it has been the one that has served my needs the best.

There are many systems out there, but I had a difficult time finding one that would read & generate random weight barcodes. I have a fresh retail meat case so everything is random weight.

Another one to look at is Quickbooks PoS. If you don't have many items and do not need random weight barcodes this may be an option. I do know of another processor using Quickbooks PoS and they found a third party that was able to tweak it to read random weight barcodes.

Biggest thing is don't be in a hurry to buy the first thing that comes along. Do your homework and research on them, and especially the service end. That's where it gets VERY expensive is the support on the back end. Good luc

Plant Design and Construction

                  What's on this page? 

Building a meat plant is no easy job.  Even commercial contractors may not be familiar with the ins and outs of building a food processing plant that needs to be constantly washed down, contains rooms held at -20˚F, and has 1,000+ lb. carcasses hanging from rails throughout the plant.  Much information concerning building meat plants is proprietary.  Here are the best resources we know about that are publicly available.

Remember: check with your food safety inspection agency and local building authorities before beginning any construction.

Q: Are there any plant designs I can see? How much does it cost to build a meat processing plant? 

A: The million dollar question!  What is costs to build a plant will vary greatly from place to place and plant to plant: a very general rule of thumb is about $300/sq ft.  Take a look at the feasibility studies below: there might be one for your region which will give you a more locally relevant number. 

Q: What about waste?  How will I deal with wastewater and solid waste? 

Q: I think I want to use a mobile slaughter unit: where can I find out more about MSUs?

Plant Design Guide

This guide from Iowa State University, Guide to Designing a Small Red Meat Plant with Two Sizes of Model Designs, will help you construct, expand, or upgrade a locker-type red meat plant. These plans can help you avoid some headaches, including deciding if you really need to expand. Sometimes you can ease bottlenecks by upgrading or moving equipment without adding more space, by changing how you schedule your processes, increasing batch size, or changing product flow. The designs in this guide are not intended to be directly built from but to get you started in the right direction.

Meat Processing Feasibility Studies

Different groups around the country have conducted feasibility studies to learn what kind of processing solution makes the most sense for their area and circumstances. Our summaries of selected studies tell you how the studies were done and what they learned. We give contact info for the authors and links to the full reports.

Meat Processing Equipment

In addition to the physical layout and design of the meat processing facility, you'll need to think about what kind of equipment is required for the processing services you plan on offering.  Check out our Equipment page for videos, advice and more.

Water Quantity and Quality for Meat Processing Facilities

If you're building a new plant or expanding an existing plant, you need to know how much water you'll use and how to manage the wastewater.

This downloadable pair of tables (pdf) offers water quantity data from seven real processors of varying sizes and species and water quality data from three of those.

  • Quantity data are in gallons per animal.
  • Quality data include BOD, TSS, EC, TDS, TN, TKN, Cl, and Coliforms.

Thanks to Kennedy/Jenks Consultants for sharing the data, some of which they got from the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network  listserve

Wastewater Management for Small Meat Processors

One of the most daunting questions for any new meat processing facility is, “how will we deal with our wastewater?”  Depending on the requirements of your state, county, and/or local authorities, wastewater can be treated in various ways.  On this page, we explain the basic treatment options. 

  

Alternatives to Rendering: Butcher Waste Composting Date: December 1, 2009 Duration: 1 hour

Disposal of offal and butcher waste is often increasingly difficult and expensive, as renderers close down or raise prices. Composting this waste has been demonstrated as a viable, safe alternative. An expert in butcher waste composting explains how it's done, and a small meat processor in Oregon describes his composting operation, including regulations and permitting process.

For more on composting animal waste, check out "Composting Animal Mortalities" from the Cornell Waste Management Institute.  Click here to download the document. 

Mobile Slaughter Units

For more information on Mobile Slaughter Units (MSUs), check our our MSU page here.  This page includes information about MSU operations, financials, regulations and more.  We also have MSU Case Studies, links to companies that build MSUs, blueprints for building your own and NMPAN webinars on MSUs.  

Farm to School Grant Awards Announced by USDA

USDA has announced that 65 projects nationwide will receive Farm to School grants. The grants award a total of $5 million to schools, state agencies, tribal groups, and nonprofit organizations in 42 states and Puerto Rico for farm to school planning,…

University of Illinois Project Connects Food Production, Processing, and Service

The Illinois Sustainable Food Project is bringing food grown by University of Illinois students to campus dining. A partnership between the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Department of Crop Science's Sustainable Student Farm, and…

California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Provides Insight on Food Safety Modernization Act Costs

USDA Economic Research Service has released an Economic Information Bulletin titled "Food Safety Practices and Costs Under the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement." In this 64-page publication, ERS interviewed firms participating in the…

Is organic raspberry production a profitable enterprise?

Answer: Brambles, including raspberries and blackberries, can be a very profitable crop, but how profitable they will be for you depends on several factors. To begin with, your market will determine the price you receive for your berries. You will get premium prices selling directly to consumers at farmers markets, roadside stands, or a pick-your-own (PYO) operation. Other options will allow you to sell larger volumes of berries, but at a lower profit margin. These outlets include wholesalers, cooperatives, and local retailers. Small-acreage growers usually find direct marketing a good fit because it can maximize the returns from their limited production. If you are a small-scale grower interested in expanding production, you may find that a mixed model including both retail and wholesale markets would be a good fit for you. For more information on marketing options, see ATTRA's series of Marketing Tip Sheets.

A 2008 survey of bramble growers conducted by the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association (NARBA) provides a good reference for average blackberry and raspberry prices. Thirty-four growers throughout the United States responded to the survey. The average reported price for PYO raspberries was $3.75 per pound ($3.15/pint), with PYO blackberries at $2.70 per pound. The average price reported for retail markets including farmers markets and farm stands was $4.75 per pint or $4.06 per half-pint for raspberries and $4.06 per pint or $6.50 per quart for blackberries. Wholesale prices were reported per flat, with a flat containing 12 half-pints of raspberries or 12 pints of blackberries. Raspberry wholesale prices averaged $27.50 per flat, or $2.29 per half-pint, and wholesale blackberry prices averaged $30 per flat or $2.50 per pint.

Marketing arrangements should be made before planting, because brambles are a high-investment crop. If you will be growing certified organic blackberries or raspberries, it is important to find a market that will offer premium prices for your berries to offset the additional costs that you will incur as an organic grower.

Researchers at North Carolina State University developed a budget for organic blackberry production in the Southeast that shows a break-even point three years after planting and a cumulative net profit of $46,203 per acre over six years. Assumptions for this budget include a peak yield of 10,000 pounds per acre in years three and four, a marketable harvest of 80%, and a retail sales price of $5.59 per pound for organic blackberries. A University of California conventional-blackberry budget also shows breakeven in year three with a net profit of $53,431 after six years. This budget is based on production levels of 3,500 trays per acre sold at $16.00 per tray, with each tray holding five pounds of blackberries.

The largest expense categories for the North Carolina budget include material expenses for the trellis in the establishment year, annual harvest labor, and annual production labor. The budget projects a net cost of $15,232 before the berries come into production, showing that a grower will need to have the capital to support the operation for at least three years before a positive cash flow occurs.

In some areas of the United States, raspberries can be a more profitable enterprise than blackberries. A University of California primocane-fruiting raspberry budget shows net returns of $39,235 per acre three years after planting, and break-even in year two. The budget assumes that production levels will reach 5,000 trays per acre (4.5 pounds per tray) in year three with raspberries sold for $15 per tray. Because of ideal growing conditions in California’s Central Coast Region, the production levels in this budget are higher than can be expected in other regions.

For more information, consult the ATTRA publication Brambles: Organic Production. This publication focuses on organic practices for blackberry and raspberry production. It discusses cultural considerations including site selection, establishment, pruning and trellising, and it introduces organic practices for fertility, weed, disease, and insect management. It also provides new information on greenhouse production and season extension and addresses economics and marketing.

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

Is organic raspberry production a profitable enterprise?

Answer: Brambles, including raspberries and blackberries, can be a very profitable crop, but how profitable they will be for you depends on several factors. To begin with, your market will determine the price you receive for your berries. You will get premium prices selling directly to consumers at farmers markets, roadside stands, or a pick-your-own (PYO) operation. Other options will allow you to sell larger volumes of berries, but at a lower profit margin. These outlets include wholesalers, cooperatives, and local retailers. Small-acreage growers usually find direct marketing a good fit because it can maximize the returns from their limited production. If you are a small-scale grower interested in expanding production, you may find that a mixed model including both retail and wholesale markets would be a good fit for you. For more information on marketing options, see ATTRA's series of Marketing Tip Sheets.

A 2008 survey of bramble growers conducted by the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association (NARBA) provides a good reference for average blackberry and raspberry prices. Thirty-four growers throughout the United States responded to the survey. The average reported price for PYO raspberries was $3.75 per pound ($3.15/pint), with PYO blackberries at $2.70 per pound. The average price reported for retail markets including farmers markets and farm stands was $4.75 per pint or $4.06 per half-pint for raspberries and $4.06 per pint or $6.50 per quart for blackberries. Wholesale prices were reported per flat, with a flat containing 12 half-pints of raspberries or 12 pints of blackberries. Raspberry wholesale prices averaged $27.50 per flat, or $2.29 per half-pint, and wholesale blackberry prices averaged $30 per flat or $2.50 per pint.

Marketing arrangements should be made before planting, because brambles are a high-investment crop. If you will be growing certified organic blackberries or raspberries, it is important to find a market that will offer premium prices for your berries to offset the additional costs that you will incur as an organic grower.

Researchers at North Carolina State University developed a budget for organic blackberry production in the Southeast that shows a break-even point three years after planting and a cumulative net profit of $46,203 per acre over six years.
Assumptions for this budget include a peak yield of 10,000 pounds per acre in years three and four, a marketable harvest of 80%, and a retail sales price of $5.59 per pound for organic blackberries. A University of California conventional-blackberry budget also shows breakeven in year three with a net profit of $53,431 after six years. This budget is based on production levels of 3,500 trays per acre sold at $16.00 per tray, with each tray holding five pounds of blackberries.

The largest expense categories for the North Carolina budget include material expenses for the trellis in the establishment year, annual harvest labor, and annual production labor. The budget projects a net cost of $15,232 before the berries come into production, showing that a grower will need to have the capital to support the operation for at least three years before a positive cash flow occurs.

In some areas of the United States, raspberries can be a more profitable enterprise than blackberries. A University of California primocane-fruiting raspberry budget shows net returns of $39,235 per acre three years after planting, and break-even in year two. The budget assumes that production levels will reach 5,000 trays per acre (4.5 pounds per tray) in year three with raspberries sold for $15 per tray. Because of ideal growing conditions in California’s Central Coast Region, the production levels in this budget are higher than can be expected in other regions.

For more information, consult the ATTRA publication Brambles: Organic Production. This publication focuses on organic practices for blackberry and raspberry production. It discusses cultural considerations including site selection, establishment, pruning and trellising, and it introduces organic practices for fertility, weed, disease, and insect management. It also provides new information on greenhouse production and season extension and addresses economics and marketing.

Original post blogged on b2evolution.

Syndicate content


about seo