PITTSBORO, N.C.–Farmer Duane Smith of Riverbend Heritage Farm in Stanley, North Carolina, had planned to have his pasture-raised turkeys processed on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Although he had booked the appointment at Cool Hand Meats six months in advance, he discovered in October that the plant had suddenly closed. Smith had just a few weeks to find a place to process 100 turkeys, 30 geese reserved for Christmas dinners, and 200 broiler chickens.
“My customers had paid a $25 deposit and I had nowhere to take them,” recalls Smith. Otherwise, he says, “I would have to wait until the beginning of next year. But the market for turkeys goes down a lot after Thanksgiving.”
Since 2012, Cool Hand Meats formerly known as the Foothills Pilot Plant, had provided affordable, Animal Welfare Approved slaughter at their U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-permitted processing plant in Marion, North Carolina. The facility processed chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese for 300 to 400 independent, pasture-based farmers across six states. Because there was a daily USDA inspector who examined the birds for disease, the farmers were allowed to apply for and receive authorization to use special claims such as “local,” “free range,” and “Animal Welfare Approved” on the meat they sold.
Find out how CFSA played a crucial role and what happened next here.
–Elizabeth Read, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
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