USDA: Run For The Border

Buckeye Farm Beat

Some small Ohio meat processors already getting a big boost from the USDA and state’s new Cooperative Interstate Shipment Program.

Published on: April 2, 2013

“Initially we had 30 plants ask for applications,” reports Dr. Mike Hockman, chief of the Division of Meat Inspection, at ODA. Of those 15 returned the form and 7 have been approved for interstate shipping. They are an interesting group, according to Hockman, who has helped to shepherd the option since he became an assistant chief in 1997. No doubt his 30 plus years working as a veterinarian and a recruiter for the FSIS gave him some valuable understanding of the system.

“I see great opportunities for this program,” Hockman says. “Already we have three more plants interested in shipping to Kentucky and West Virginia.”

The first Ohio business to put the new law into action was Pleasant Valley Poultry in Baltic. Successful businesses build on opportunity. A couple of developments have made a prime opportunity for Aden and Wilma Troyer the Amish owners of Pleasant Valley Poultry. First, there are some people who really want to raise their own chickens to eat. Or else they are convinced that buying from a local producer at a farmer’s market is a better way to feed the family.

Either way someone is needed to process the birds in a humane, clean, healthy, inspected, efficient manner. The opportunity to provide a custom processing business was clear especially to the Troyers who hung out their shingle in 2009. Now 4 years later they have 900 customers and have expanded the building twice already meet the demand. They currently have capacity to process 1,000 birds a day.

Customers come from as far away as Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky to have birds processed. Other Ohio companies participating in the interstate program make Italian sausage, smoked sausage snacks, soups and meat-filled ravioli.

Thanks to Hockman and other pioneers who pushed this plan, Ohio was the first state to roll it out. No doubt gives the early adopters an up on the competition, which is not far behind. Ohio has already been joined in an interstate market by Wisconsin and North Dakota. Not to worry, however, the local market trend is becoming more regional. Find something that fits and there is business enough for all.