The New England Butchers

There are not many slaughterhouses in New England that are equipped to process large quantities of beef, however, Paul Miller ships cattle from his dairy farm in eastern Connecticut some 300 miles to a Pennsylvanian meatpacker.

Miller prefers to send the cattle to a slaughterhouse in the area so he can sell locally produced beef, save on the costs of transportation and avoid long rides for calves that lose weight during shipping. New England officials of agriculture would also prefer that because their purpose is to increase food production to make the region more self-sufficient in case disasters such as huge snow storms and terrorist attacks make it hard to deliver food.

The real stumbling blocks, however, for meat processors and farmers are many: building a slaughterhouse is a huge investment, and local zoning rules bar such businesses. Meatpackers in New England say that it is hard to compete price-wise with slaughterhouses in other states, and it is difficult for them to keep skilled meat cutters and other workers. Because New England only has 28 slaughterhouses, said Chelsea Lewis, agriculture development coordinator for the Vermont Agency for Agriculture. Wisconsin, on the other hand has some 285 small meat processors.

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