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Black River's Processing Plant Is a Boon for Local Meat Industry

Corin Hirsch writes about Black River Meats processing facility in the August 13th issue of Seven Days:

"Though Black River Produce’s new plant — which also processes seafood — is barely three months old, its cutters work with intensity and speed, making this place a potential game changer for the local meat industry. Vermont has long struggled with a bottleneck at the slaughtering and processing levels, a frustrating challenge for farmers who might otherwise grow their herds to meet the rising demand for local meats.

“It takes longer to process an animal than it takes to slaughter,” says Chelsea Bardot Lewis, the state’s senior agricultural development coordinator. In grad school, she wrote a thesis examining whether slaughterhouses stalling the meat sector’s growth — and concluded that the real problem was with processing.

For Bardot Lewis, who also heads the Meat Processing Task Force of the state’s Farm to Plate initiative, processing has been a key problem to solve. “The meat industry comes up as one of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross’ top three in terms of where he sees the future of the Vermont ag sector growing,” she says. “We’ve been putting a lot of investment into both the regulatory and development sides, to expand capacity for slaughter and processing.”"

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