Invest in Regional Food & Farm Infrastructure
Both consumer demand for local food and the interest of new and established farmers in producing it have skyrocketed in the last decade, but the supply is still often limited by the lack of physical processing infrastructure. Many local and regional canneries, slaughterhouses, butchers, dairies, and similar food processors closed in the 1980s and 1990s, eliminating a critical part of a local food system. Investment in building or rebuilding this infrastructure has significant economic benefits, supporting local farmers and creating jobs.
State Policy Priorities
- Invest in local meat processing infrastructure.
- Update cottage food laws.
- Invest in food hubs.
- States without a state inspection program can consider legislation to create one, as Arkansas (2021 AR HB 1315) recently did and Massachusetts (2021 MA HB 3926) is considering.
- Pursuing a multipronged strategy to improve meat processing for its ranchers, Wyoming (2021 WY HB 54) directed a council to expand the state’s meat processing infrastructure in a variety of ways, and also passed a “herd share” law (2020 WY HB 155), which allows ranchers to sell shares of an animal or herd to shareholders who receive cuts of meat when the animals are processed, without the need for USDA-inspected slaughter. Vermont has a similar herd share law ( Stat. Ann. tit. 6, § 3311a).
- Butchering training programs like in Iowa, Montana, and Arizona, can be developed in partnership with state agencies and funding.
- Connecticut (2015 CT HB 5027) recently updated its cottage food laws.
- States like California (2021 CA AB 1144), Illinois (2021 IL SB 2007), and Florida (2021 FL HB 663) that have existing cottage food laws have recently expanded or clarified them in light of the increased interest in this kind of small business.
- A bill enacted in Utah (2021 UT HB 94) granted authority to local health departments to license and regulate what the bills calls “microenterprise home kitchens.”
- California (2021 CA AB 1009) enacted legislation to establish the Farm to Community Food Hub program. Hawaii (2021 HI SB 338) lawmakers have introduced legislation to establish a five-year food hub pilot program, which would increase local food access and provide grant funding for applicants wishing to establish or expand a food hub.
 Kudelska, Kamila. “Wyoming Ranchers in Butchering Bind Are Selling Beef Directly to Consumers.” CapRadio, https://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=922849512.
 Anderson, Katie. “Edgewood Locker Introduces Meat Cutting and Butcher Apprenticeship Program.” Edgewood Locker, https://edgewoodlocker.com/2021/02/edgewood-locker-introduces-meat-cutting-and-butcher-apprenticeship-program/.
 Miles Community College. “MCC, Montana Farm Bureau and Montana Meat Processors Association Develop Meat Processing Program.” MCC News, https://www.milescc.edu/AboutUs/NewsRelease/2020/6/646.aspx.
 GateWay Community College. “Meat Cutting.” GateWay Community College, https://www.gatewaycc.edu