Researchers at Plymouth State University are exploring whether New Hampshire residents raising livestock would be well served by a state certified meat processing plant.
On behalf of the state agricultural department, the university's Center for Rural Partnership recently surveyed 39 producers and processors. About three quarters of the producers said they were interested in a state inspection program as an alternative to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection program.
The center's Rachelle Lyons says there are four USDA certified meat processing plants in the state, and she wanted to see where there is opportunity for growth. She says a state certified plant would open up opportunity for smaller scale operators, though a drawback would be the limitation of selling the meat only within New Hampshire.
"It reduces your consumer base, but it also really targets the consumers who want to know their farmer, where their food is coming from and take a more active role in their food system," Lyons said. "We are not sure what share of consumers is aware of this locally-grown market, and we're not sure if they are motivated to support it."
Lyons said consumers will be surveyed in upcoming months about the state-licensed processing idea.