Vt. farm to build own slaughterhouse - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. farm to build own slaughterhouse

Orange, Vermont - August 3, 2010

Walter Jeffries and his family have about 250 pigs that roam 40 acres of pasture on their farm in Orange.

"We have been doing selective breeding for 12 generations of pigs; with each we breed the best of the best and eat the rest," Jeffries explained.

The market for organically grown, grass-fed pork has been solid. The Jeffries supply families and businesses and restaurants from White River Junction to Burlington to Bradford.

"Very good, demand is very high. We can't produce enough to meet the demand that we are getting. We could produce maybe five times as much as we are producing now and it would sell out every week," Jeffries said.

But there is a problem. The Jeffries, like many other livestock farmers, rely on slaughterhouses to process their meat. And they are few and far between, and it means transporting the animals, sometimes hours away. So they are building their own slaughter facility on their farm.

"It means we will be able to stay in business because right now there is the problem that if the butcher says we are not doing it this week, that is a problem for us and our customers," Jeffries said.

The Jeffries have all their permits in place. The facility will be inspected by the state, and while this solution is not perfect for every farm, it works for the Jeffries. The state agrees.

"You have control of your product. You can serve your marketplace and your people better than if you are relying on a facility to do that for you," said Randy Quenneville, of the Vt. Agency of Agriculture.

The cost when all is said and done is around $150,000. The family is raising the money through logging and pre-bought CSA shares from customers. It is small by industry standards, but it will allow for the processing of about 10 pigs a week.

"We need something that we know that in 1 or 10 years we will have slaughter capacity," Jeffries said.

Jeffries said if all goes well, the slaughterhouse should be finished by next summer. It will be used for his pigs only.

Judy Simpson - WCAX News

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