'Meating' Processing Needs in Rural Minnesota
2 Nov 2022
News, Client Feature Article, Workforce
This article originally appeared on and was written for Rural Minnesota CEP by Golden Shovel Agency.
As meat processing plants throughout the nation closed or curtailed production during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers and suppliers turned to smaller, local processors as outlets for their animals. But after decades of being pushed out by the big processors, there simply were not enough to meet the demand. Officials in Minnesota have been researching possibilities to expand capacity but have run across a glaring weakness.
“The number one response from meat processors across the state on how to expand capacity was to hire more cutters,” said Stu Lourey, Government Relations Director with Minnesota Farmers Union. “But there is an incredible lack of trained persons to hire.”
Central Lakes College (CLC) is addressing that situation this fall with a new Meat Cutting and Butchery program at its Staples campus, one of two hands-on programs starting in response to COVID-19. The program will include 16-course credits in one semester, covering topics like Meat Cutting, Value-Added Processing and Internship in Meat Cutting and Butchery, preparing students for careers as meat carvers, butcher apprentices, food science technicians, meat processors and cutters and more. CLC has accepted 19 students to the program for the fall semester who will take the courses in evening classes and plan to offer the same format in the spring semester. The instructor is Jess Feierabend, who comes to CLC from the Baxter Costco, where he was the lead meat cutter for ten years and is an experienced custom butcher.