For those of you unfamiliar with the USDA rules regarding meat processing, for red meats you are required to use a USDA-inspected meat processing facility if you plan on transporting meat across state lines for resale.
Living in a 5-state area (West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia) like we do, this was clearly a necessity in getting our product out to the consumer.
Organic certification was formalized by the USDA some 5 or 6 years ago (?). Organic production rules are written by the National Organics Program (NOP), under the USDA, but the program is administered and implemented by the individual states. Each state handles the implementation, administration, and surveillance differently, but the program rules are the same across state lines.
We have been producing our meats organically now for 5 years which has entailed getting our pastures certified, our vegetable garden certified, tracking any use of antibiotics or deworming agents, and buying organic hay. Most of these things have increased our costs but without a processor that was likewise certified organic, we were unable to sell our products as organic.
The primary requirement for getting a meat processor certified involves using only approved cleaning agents (to clean the equipment) and good record-keeping. We are proud and happy to say that our area (although not our state) now has an organically-certified abbatoir.
Nell's/Stonypoint in Littlestown, Pa (just over the Pa line from us) is perhaps the only USDA-inspected, organically-certified meat processor for a 7 or 8 hour drive from us.
1319 Frederick Pike
Littlestown, PA 17340
We are excited and happy to start selling these high-quality, sustainably-produced, local products to our clients in the 5 state area!
As industrial agriculture has watched the organics movement thrive and prosper, there has been tremendous pressure on the USDA to loosen the rules and requirements for organic-certification.
The Organic Consumers Association is a great watchdog organization that pushes the government on issues related to organic certification and calls out private sector producers for false-advertising and unscrupulous activity.
I highly recommend you subscribe to their organics alert newsletter to help stay informed on important issues involving the organics movement in the U.S.