… she monitors the news coming out of Cobleskill, New York, the closest town to her houselet in Summit.

If you’ve been reading University Diaries for awhile, you know that almost every August Les UDs (sans La Kid, who finds their way-nowheresville place, and the coyotes who bark around it at night, boring and alarming respectively) drive north and then west to what used to be called the Leatherstocking Region (New York State has decided the name’s a dud), but which is basically an area between the Adirondacks and the Catskills, with Cooperstown the best-known part of it.

There they read, write, go to a Glimmerglass opera, go (this year) to Stageworks Hudson for Imagining Madoff, visit with friends, take long walks, scythe their way through the overgrowth on the path from their teeny houselet to their absurdly teeny other houselet on their little pond, take day trips, and, in the middle of the month, eat dinner at the Bear Cafe in Woodstock to celebrate UD‘s birthday.

The SUNY campus at Cobleskill is sleepy, and architecturally unappealing; but lookee here. It just made National Public Radio.

… It was lamb day recently at the State University of New York’s meat lab in Cobleskill, a little town near Albany. Guys in white smocks and hard hats haul carcasses out of the cooler. They slaughtered the animals the day before.

… The local food movement is driving more farmers to raise animals for meat. But between farm and table is a bottleneck — a shortage of small slaughterhouses serving small farms, especially in the Northeast.

“What we need is for that smaller operator who may have 100 acres or 150 acres — he would like to have the opportunity to take and raise a few cattle or a few hogs and be able to slaughter them and sell them locally. To do that, you have to have an infrastructure,” says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack…

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2 Responses to “As UD Prepares to Go Upstate for August…”

  1. Phiala Says:

    The lack of local slaughterhouses is a major problem for the agricultural community in areas like the northeastern United States, where there are many small farmers, and farmers interested in marketing organic or local meats. Huge producers do not have a problem – they maintain their own facilities.

    Small custom slaughterhouses are held to the same USDA regulations that large ones are. I’m not talking about cleanliness and safety, but the administrative and paperwork requirements that make sense for an operation that processes hundreds of animals a day are overwhelming and unmanageable for a very small operation.

    With fewer and fewer USDA slaughterhouses available, small farmers face the transport costs to haul their animals long distances, if they can find a slaughterhouse even willing to do small custom jobs. Non-USDA inspected slaughterhouses can only process meat that’s not to be sold (home consumption).

    One bright spot is the mobile slaughterhouse concept: bring the facilities to the farmer instead. There are a few of these USDA “meatwagons” operating. Vermont has taken a different option, and established state-inspected slaughterhouses. Here the meat can only be sold within Vermont, but that’s still an improvement from the farmer’s perspective.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Thanks for those details, Phiala.

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