Meat Processing Feasibility Studies

Is this a good idea? Will it work for us? And what’s it going to cost?

Every meat processing plant needs the following equation to be successful: Capital + Customers + Talent/Staff = Potential Success. What is the best way to ensure these key parts of the equation are there? Write a feasibility study first (watch this webinar here to learn more about what these studies should contain). Then if the project appears feasible, write a business plan. Then pull together the financing. Then the design & permits. Then find the builders. You get the drill.

Building a successful meat processing business is far from easy. The feasibility studies listed below detail many of the complications, challenges, and costs (sometimes in great financial detail).

We want to caution all readers that these are only studies, not real life. Some even have mistakes (we marked the ones we found). Yet we collected all these studies here for you because even imperfect information is better than no information. Plus, we hope you’ll find the process used in these studies helpful as you plan your own business.

But wait, do you even need a feasibility study?

In 2015, we worked with a group of producers in California who had been considering a feasibility study for a new plant.  They were interested in exploring multiple options: mobile slaughter, fixed facilities, red meat, poultry, etc.  We worked with them to conduct a “pre-assessment”.  A pre-assessment is a first pass at determining the feasibility of a new plant.  It is faster and cheaper than conducting a full blown feasibility study: you use existing research and your own on-the-ground data gathering to answer a couple of key questions.  This pre-assessment will help you decide if a) you even need a feasibility study and b) what that study would analyze.  Try a pre-assessment first!  Read more about it here:

Meat Processing Feasibility Studies: A Limited Library

We’ve collected as many studies as we know about here on this page.  There are always new studies being conducted, so this is by no means an exhaustive list.  Got a study you don’t see listed?  Email us at and we’ll get it added to this page.  

West Coast


Southern Puget Sound, WA

  • An Assessment of Demand for a Mobile Slaughtering Unit in Pierce, King, Kitsap and Thurston Counties
  • By Georgine Yorgey (MPA student, University of Washington)
  • Date: 2008
  • Commissioned by the Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative
  • Link to full study

Central and South Puget Sound, WA

  • Meat Production and Processing: Infrastructure and Labor Study in the Central and South Puget Sound Region
  • By Mike Poteet, Pierce County Agricultural Planner
  • Date: 2013
  • Commissioned by Pierce and Thurston Counties
  • Link to full study


South Coast, OR

  • South Coast Meat Processing and Marketing Project
  • By Keith DeHaan, Food & Livestock Planning
  • Date: 2011
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study (this study includes model business plans that could be adapted for meat processing and/or marketing businesses anywhere in the country)

SW Oregon

  • Rusted Gate Farm Mobile Slaughter Unit Business Plan
  • By Rebecca Thistlethwaite & Kathryn Quanbeck, Honest Meat Consulting LLC
  • Date: June 2022
  • Commissioned by non-profit Rusted Gate Farm
  • Link to full plan
  • Link to financial Appendix B with financing, Appendix C with grants/donations, and Appendix D with grants/donations & breakeven pricing


Inyo & Mono Counties, CA

  • Final Report: Natural Livestock Feasibility Study
  • By Jeff Schahczenski, National Center for Appropriate Technology
  • Date: 2009
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

North Coast Region, CA

  • “Meat Industry Capacity and Feasibility Study of the North Coast Region of California”
  • By Shermain Hardesty, John Harper, and others from University of California, Davis, UC Cooperative Extension, and The Facilities Group
  • Date: 2009
  • Commissioned by the Mendocino County Economic Development and Financing Corporation
  • Link to full study

A follow-up study was completed in 2013:

  • “Mendocino County Meat Plant Study”
  • By Shermain Hardesty and John Harper
  • Date: 2013
  • Commissioned by the Mendocino County Economic Development and Financing Corporation
  • Link to full study

Tuolumne County, CA

  • Capitalization and Operating Financial Estimate for USDA Inspected Livestock Processing in Tuolumne County, California
  • By Bruce Dunlop, Lopez Island Farm
  • Date: February 2005
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

Tuolumne County, CA*

  • “Facilitating Direct Sales of Meat Products in Tuolumne County: A Progress Report”
  • By Jay Norton, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Tuolumne County, Sonora, CA;
  • Date: March 2006
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

Siskiyou County, CA

  • Siskiyou Slaughter Facility: Preliminary Feasibility Study and Action Plan
  • By Calaveras Grown
  • Date: September 2012
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

Calaveras County, CA*

  • Final Link: Getting Livestock from Farm to Fork
  • By Great Northern Corporation and Economic Development “On Call”
  • Date: July 2005
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

South & East Bay (San Francisco Area), CA

  • Characterizing Demand for Local Meat Processing: A Needs Assessment for Livestock Processing Services in San Francisco’s East and South Bay
  • By Susan Ellsworth, Alameda County Resource Conservation District
  • Date: December 2015
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study

Central Coast/Monterey Bay Region, CA

  • Options for Increased Processing Capacity in California’s Central Coast Region
  • By Kathryn Quanbeck, former NMPAN Program Manager, along with Ecological Farming Association and California Center for Cooperative Development
  • Date: October 2015
  • Commissioned by the Ecological Farming Association with funding from USDA AMS Local Foods Promotion Program
  • Link to full studyPDF iconCentral Coast Project Report FINAL (Oct.2015).pdf

Mountain States


  • Mobile Slaughter Unit Costs and Revenues: Projections from Nevada
  • By Kynda Curtis, Assistant Professor, Department of Resource Economics, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2007
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study (with NMPAN comments)
  • Locally Produced Livestock Processing and Marketing Feasibility Assessment
  • By University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2007
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study 


  • Strategies to Increase Prosperity for Small Farms Through Sustainable Livestock Production, Processing and Marketing
  • Project Director: Darin Saul, PhD, Office of Community Partnerships
  • Date: January 2014
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study


Beaverhead County, MT*

  • “Feasibility of a Beef Processing Plant In Beaverhead County, Montana”
  • By Food and Livestock Planning, Inc.
  • Date: July 2006
  • Commissioned and sponsored by Headwaters R, C & D and Beaverhead Economic Development Corporation
  • Link to full study

Montana (statewide)

  • “One Montana Meat Processing Facility Feasibility Study”
  • By One Montana
  • Date: September 2014
  • Commissioned and sponsored by One Montana, a Bozeman, MT based non-profit
  • Link to full study


  • “Potential for Growth in Local Processing and Sales of Utah Beef”
  • By Utah State University Extension and Utah Department of Agriculture & Food
  • Date: December 2020
  • Commissioned by UDAF
  • Link to full study.


  • Mobile Slaughter Unit for Wyoming: Assessment of Need and Values
  • Dave Fischer and Jim Bennage, Sheridan College
  • Date: July 2004
  • Commissioned by Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Rural Development Council, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Sheridan Community College, and local livestock producers
  • Link to full study


Great Plains


Northeast Iowa

  • “Feasibility Study For A Niche Multiple Species Meat Plant Located in Northeast Iowa”
  • By Food and Livestock Planning, Inc. and ProAnd International, Ltd.
  • Date: April 2002
  • Commissioned by Upper Mississippi Family Meats Cooperative, with Blooming Prairie & CROPP Cooperatives
  • Link to full study


  • The Feasibility of Establishing a Stand Along USDA Inspected Poultry Processing Facility for Independent Producers in SE Michigan
  • By Wendy Banka of Might Fine Poultry Processing LLC
  • Date: December 2016
  • Full study here: MightyFineFeasibiltyStudy2015-2016_3.pdf
  • Final USDA LFPP report 2018, Architectural & Business Plans for Multi-Species Poultry Plant: PDF iconFinal MFPP Report.pdf
  • Michigan Meat Processing Capacity Assessment Final Report
  • By Jeannine Schweihofer, Sarah Wells, Steve Miller, Rich Pirog (Michigan State University)
  • Date: September 2014
  • While not a feasibility study, per se, this publication details results from a 2014 study of meat processors in Michigan. MSU Extension and Center for Regional Food Systems Livestock Work Group members surveyed processors to better understand the state of the Michigan meat industry. The report includes details of the demographics of Michigan’s meat processor operations, the types of business that exist, markets that the businesses serve, and some of the operators’ future business plans. A corresponding map of meat processing and slaughter facilities in Michigan is available on the MSU Extension website.
  • Link to full study



  • Slaughterhouse Feasibility Report
  • By: Sleeping Lion Associates
  • Date: April 2005
  • Commissioned by Pride of Vermont
  • Link to full study

Connecticut River Valley (CT, MA, VT)

  • Demand and Options for Local Meat Processing: Finding the way from pasture to market in the CT River Valley
  • By: Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
  • Date: 2008
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study (with NMPAN comments)

New York

New York: Southern Tier West

  • Southern Tier West: The Invigoration of Local Livestock and Processing Industries
  • By: Kitchen Table Consultants
  • Date: November 2015
  • Commissioned by the Southern Tier West Regional Planning & Development Board , Funded by USDA-AMS
  • Link to full study

New York: Hudson Valley

  • Meat Processing Facility Feasibility Study
  • By: Shepstone Management Company
  • Date: January 2000
  • Commissioned by the Hudson Valley Livestock Marketing Task Force
  • Link to full study

Western Massachusetts

  • Confronting Challenges in the Local Meat Industry: Focus on the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts
  • By: Ellen Dickenson, Spirit Joseph and Jonathan Ward. Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • Date: 2014
  • Commissioned by Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)
  • This study consists of two valuable tools that can be utilized anywhere:
    • Cash Flow Template for a Small Meat PlantCISA designed the template in 2008 to test the financial feasibility of establishing a small-scale, low-tech, mixed species slaughterhouse and processing facility in Western Massachusetts. CISA partnered with a small group of farmers to estimate cash flow inputs for building or renovating a small-scale slaughter and processing facility. Based on this, they developed a cash flow projection and Profit and Loss Statement, in template format for others to use.
    • CISA Feasibility Template for a Small-Scale Meat Processor (cut & wrap only)This feasibility template was designed to help test the economic viability of establishing a small-scale meat-processing facility. It assumes the facility will not slaughter animals, but will instead receive whole animal carcasses, halves, or quarters, which will then be further processed. This template can provide a quick analysis of a potential business, as well as the relevant criteria to consider. The template, however, should not be the sole tool used in your determination.


North Carolina

  • Report on the Feasibility of a Small-scale Small-animal Slaughter Facility for Independent meat Producers in North Carolina
  • By: Smithson Mills, North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Date: 2007
  • Commissioned by local livestock producers
  • Link to full study (with NMPAN comments)


  • A Study of Small Volume Red-Meat Processing in Virginia
  • By: Matson Consulting
  • Date: 2020
  • Commissioned by Virginia FAIRS
  • Link to full study

Hawaii & Alaska

  • know of any studies for Hawaii & Alaska?  Email us!

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