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Direct marketing meat workshops offered by WSU Extension; demand increases for locally produced food

PULLMAN, Wash. – The direct marketing of meat by livestock producers will be the topic of a series of workshops offered this fall and winter by Washington State University Extension. Workshop series organizer Tom Platt, a WSU Extension educator based in Davenport, said the series will help livestock producers identify and manage the risks they take on when they begin direct marketing meat.

“With demand growing for locally grown food, livestock producers are working hard to develop the infrastructure to meet this demand,” Platt said. “In eastern Washington, producers are excited about a new, federally inspected livestock slaughter plant being developed in Odessa, Washington. This plant will help provide locally raised meat to Washington consumers.”

The four-part workshop series will be offered in various eastern Washington locations. Held monthly, the series begins in November and completes in February 2013.

Platt said that although some of the risks livestock producers face in direct marketing are similar to those they encounter in producing feeder and finished livestock, many are new and unfamiliar. The series will address risks related to starting a business, including financing, marketing and product supply management; public relations; product quality and consumer perceptions of healthfulness; animal welfare; environmental stewardship; food safety; liability; and business, sanitary and environmental regulations.

During the series, participants will be guided through a process of identifying risks they deem important enough to manage, and then developing strategies to manage those risks.

The first workshop is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1, in Grand Coulee. Topics include business planning, marketing, and dealing with things when they go haywire.

The second workshop on Thursday, Dec. 13, in Soap Lake deals with risks related to livestock finishing, meat quality, and many other factors identified and discussed by a panel of people in the direct market meat business.

The third workshop is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Ritzville. It will focus on business licensing and regulations, including health, sanitary and environmental regulations, as well as animal care guidelines.

The fourth workshop is scheduled for Feb. 5 in Spokane and will emphasize managing food safety risk and liability. At this workshop participants also will be asked to complete a list of strategies for managing risks they deem important based on their direct-market meat-businesses experience and information they discuss during the workshop series.

All workshops run 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Registration for the four-part workshop series is $85 per person by Oct. 12, and $110 per person by Oct 29. The registration fee covers lunches and refreshments. A brochure describing the workshops in more detail and containing a registration form may be downloaded from http://bit.ly/meatmarketing. The brochure may also be requested by calling WSU Extension in Davenport at 509-725-4171. For accommodation of special need, or for more information, contact Tom Platt, 509-725-4171.

Additional funding for this series was provided by Washington State University Western Center for Risk Management Education and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture under award number 2010-49200-06203.