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Business swamped at USDA processing facilities that slaughter beef cattle

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Processing facilities in the north country that slaughter beef cattle beef are swamped with business from September through December, a challenge for farmers who market and sell packaged meats, said Steven W. Ledoux, local foods community educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County.

Processing facilities certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the region include Tri-Town Packing, Brasher Center; Red Barn Meat, Croghan; Kelley Meats, Taberg; Ward, Willard & Son butcher shop, Heuvelton. Mr. Ledoux, also a part-time beef farmer who owns Croghan-based Adirondack Beef Co., added that beef farmers also have cattle slaughtered at processing facilities south of the region at New York Custom Processing, Bridgewater, and Gold Metal Packing Corp., Utica.

“From Jan. 15 through Aug. 30 you can get any cattle processed that you want” at facilities, Mr. Ledoux said. “But from Sept. 1 through the first of January it’s to get anything killed because everything is booked because of demand. These places are killing deer, too, during the hunting season. That’s why we have to go to three different places to get it done. No one is expanding because they can’t get rid of more cattle.”

Mr. Ledoux said Tri-Town Packing has the largest processing facility in the north country, with the ability to slaughter up to 60 cattle a week. Even so, he said, the facility often has a backlog of orders during the peak fall and winter months.

Statistics show that the number of beef cattle in New York state has roughly tripled over the past five years, Mr. Ledoux said. He said there is demand in the region for a large-scale USDA processing facility to accommodate farmers in the region. But he said no plans are being established toward that end.

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