By Tracy Turner
Producers looking to take advantage of the growing consumer demand for local foods but having difficulty in finding methods to process their poultry, rabbit and fish for retail sale may want to consider setting up their own processing units.
Industry experts, including those from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, will present a discussion March 18 designed to help producers learn how to set up a mobile processing unit, said David Marrison, an Ohio State University Extension educator.
OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of the college.
From understanding the regulatory requirements behind a mobile processing unit to learning how to sell homegrown poultry and fish legally, the meeting will tackle the various issues food producers need to be aware of as they plan to market their food products locally, he said.
One of the goals of the discussion is to help producers increase the availability of local foods as well as increase their financial bottom line by widening the potential market for their food products, Marrison said.
"Mobile processing units could help producers who are looking to market poultry and fish to local restaurants, schools, grocery stores and farm markets," he said. "Numerous producers have recently lamented about the need to have easier methods to process poultry, rabbits and fish in areas throughout the state.
"Very few processing centers exist in Ohio to process poultry and fish products, and mobile processing units may help fill this processing void."
While there are nearly 300 meat processing plants in Ohio that are fully inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, only three provide poultry processing facilities fully inspected by the department, according to ODA spokeswoman Ashley McDonald.
The meeting will include comments from:
- Michael F. Link Jr., assistant chief for the Division of Meat Inspection, ODA, who will discuss the regulatory requirements behind a mobile processing unit and how to sell homegrown poultry and fish legally.
- Angela Caporelli, of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, who will discuss how a small mobile poultry processing unit was built in Kentucky and how farmers use it on a rental basis to process poultry and aquaculture species in the state.
- Jim McLaughlin, of Cornerstone Farm Ventures Inc. in New York, who will discuss the costs and equipment needed in mobile processing units.
The program runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at 39 Wall St. in Jefferson, Ohio.
There is no cost to attend the meeting but registration is requested by March 15 so enough materials will be available. The registration form is online at http://go.osu.edu/ne-events.