The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has expressed its recommendations for a resilient, diverse and secure meat processing system. Specifically, NASDA commented that flexible funding for solutions to workforce shortages and processing infrastructure investments for small to mid-sized meat processing facilities is critical to ensuring our food system is built to handle future challenges.
Twenty-seven state departments of agriculture operate state meat and poultry inspection programs covering approximately 1,900 small or very small establishments. State agriculture departments hold a unique position as they are the only entities certified to inspect meat other than the USDA. Nationwide, NASDA members report small establishments are facing significant challenges with shortages of inspectors and workers.
NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said, “Having re-assembled our food supply chains in response to each hurdle the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, NASDA members deeply understand the connection between diversity in production and food system resiliency.” She said, “We must do all we can to support our small meat processors now and invest in their ability to stand on their own in the future.”
To reduce the impact of labor shortages and recruit more workers, NASDA made various recommendations, including using USDA funding to offset employment costs, invest in workforce training programs and offer apprenticeship programs for small processing plants.
Learn more on the NASDA website.