Next NMPAN webinar:
Please note that we are currently on hiatus from doing webinars, as our audience is busier than ever dealing with the incredible market demands and logistical hurdles of COVID. However, NMPAN Director Rebecca Thistlethwaite is holding bi-weekly New Plant Q & A Office Hours every other week on Mondays, 10-10:45amPST by Zoom. Sign up on the home page. Stay tuned for new webinars launching in September 2020.
Most Recent Webinar:
NMPAN webinars are recorded and archived below, by topic.
A few selected webinars from other groups are also listed.
Click on a webinar’s title for the slides, speaker info, and recording.
Topic Areas (click to jump to a topic):
- Local Meat and Poultry Processing: the Big Picture
- Regulations and Policy
- Management and Accounting Tools for Processors
- Business Planning and Plant Design
- Food Safety & Quality
- Mobile Units
- Waste Management
- Working Effectively With Your Processor
- Animal Welfare Best Practices
- Marketing Meat
Local Meat and Poultry Processing: the Big Picture
What has happened in the world of niche meats and processing over the last decade? What does the future look like? How has NMPAN impacted businesses in the niche meat sector? Leaders in the world of niche meats shared their thoughts in this unique panel discussion.
- Dr. Lauren Gwin, co-founder and director of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN)
- Mike Lorentz, owner of Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls, MN
- Cory Carman, owner of Carman Ranch in Wallowa, OR
- Joe Cloud, co-owner/general manager of True & Essential Meats in Harrisonburg, VA
- Samantha Garwin, president of Fleishers Craft Butchery in New York, NY
- Heather Sanford, owner of The Piggery, Ithaca, NY
Local meat and poultry can’t get to market without a processor, but processors are pulled in many directions: Farmers would like more processing options, but the kind of processing needed depends on the market, the regulations are complex, and even with premium-priced meats, the profit margins are slim.
So how can local meat processing survive … and even thrive? On this webinar, Lauren Gwin and Arion Thiboumery, co-founders of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, share the results of their research on this topic, featuring innovations and lessons learned from successful processors around the country. We also heard from several regional support efforts — in Vermont, New York, and North Carolina — to improve access to local processing.
Talk is Cheap … and Efficient! Facilitating value chain development without costly new infrastructure
Let’s face it: food hubs are sexy! So are other Good Food infrastructure projects, such as regionally-scaled meat processing plants. And for good reason: these businesses are often filling gaps or bottlenecks in regional and local food systems. However, sometimes it’s not a LACK of infrastructure that leads to bottlenecks; it is incomplete or inefficient USE of the infrastructure that stymies the system. “Value Chain Coordinators” are people who work to connect the dots in a value chain. They ensure the right people, goods and resources connect with each other. Most often value chain coordinators work outside day-to-day business operations, a vantage point that offers a unique perspective on the optimal solutions in a regional market. This expanded webinar dives deep into the approaches people across the country are taking to improve the food system without costly new infrastructure. NMPAN Director Lauren Gwin discusses the critical role of the value chain facilitator in local and regional meat processing.
Some of what you will learn in this webinar includes:
- Discover the creative ways schools are working with producers and processors in Montana to procure local Montana beef.
- Bring tested beef to school strategies to your own community through lessons learned from case studies across six beef to school partnerships in Montana.
- Hear from the processor about the equipment, ordering systems, distribution, pricing, and other logistics of selling beef to schools.
Local Meat to Local Institutions- Challenges & Opportunities for Farmers & Packers
*Unfortunately, due to a technical error, this webinar was not recorded. You can scroll through the slide decks below under each speaker.
This panel included a farmer, a regional meat brand, and a vertically-integrated niche meat processor discussing the pros, cons, logistics and pricing of selling meat to institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities, and corporate kitchens. Is this the mid-scale market you have been dreaming of? We also heard briefly from a USDA AMS local foods specialist regarding grant and loan programs that could be used to advance this type of market channel diversification. This webinar was co-sponsored by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service as part of a cooperative agreement with NMPAN.
- Samantha Schaffstall, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. See Sam’s slides here:
- Kathryn Quanbeck, Carman Ranch. This regional meat brand that started with just one grassfed beef producer and has now partnering with 6 other producers specializes in grassfed beef and pastured pork for the wholesale and retail trade. They currently process and market around 2,000 beef a year. See Kathryn’s .
- Carole Soule, Miles Smith Farm. See Carole’s local beef logo here:
- Greg Gunthorp, Gunthorp Farms & Brushy Prairie Packing. See Greg’s slides here:
Regulations and Policy
Hear from a panel of speakers who are engaging with USDA FSIS policy as it relates to small meat plants and niche meats. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, with NMPAN’s help, is steering a small plant policy group that is meeting quarterly with top FSIS leadership to address policy concerns for small operators. These concerns include issues around humane handling rules, inspector training, pathogen testing, labeling, outreach to small plants, funding, and more. Learn what these folks are up to, what concerns are most pressing for them, and what they believe are potential policy levers for change. We will conclude with next steps and ways others can get involved in having their voices heard. Speakers included: Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Carrie Balkom, American Grassfed Association, Brian Sapp, White Oak Pastures, Denise Perry, Lorentz Meats, Greg Gunthorp, Gunthorp Family Farm, and Lauren Gwin of NMPAN.
Specialty fermented and dried meat products, from jerky to biltong, are growing in popularity, and an increasing number of small meat processors are making these products for their own sales or on a co-packing basis. HACCP regulations require these processors to use “validated” processes — that is, processes scientifically proven to kill dangerous pathogens. That kind of scientific support can be hard to track down. On this webinar, we learned about tools that small processors can use to assure their products are safe and in compliance with regulations. This webinar was an online version of a recent symposium by these speakers at the 2015 International Association for Food Protection Conference in Portland, Oregon.
Duration: 1 hour
On May 24, 2010 USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a draft “Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide.” The guide was written for owners and managers of a new or existing red meat or poultry MSU who want to operate under federal inspection. On this webinar we explain the guidance and answer questions with the help of a Policy Officer from USDA-FSIS.
Duration: 45 min.
The 2008 Farm Bill included a provision to allow the interstate sale of state-inspected meat and poultry. In September 2009, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service published proposed rules for how this program will work. On this webinar, we explain the proposed rules, discuss “messy details” and areas of controversy, and give background on the issue.
Duration: 90 minutes
Meat labels can be confusing for producers, processors, and consumers. Officials from USDA/FSIS Labeling and Program Delivery Division and Iowa Meat and Poultry Inspection, and the operations manager of Organic Valley’s meat division explain the label approval process, voluntary label claims, updated requirements, and how FSIS interprets claims defined by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Duration: 90 Minutes
Poultry processing exemptions can be difficult for producers, processors, and even regulators to sort out. Recognizing that states have the ability to individually modify these regulations, this webinar attempts to clear up some confusion by offering both an FSIS and a state perspective. Additionally, three exempt processors overview their operations.
Duration: 1 hour
The federal poultry processing exemptions remain confusing for producers, processors, and even regulators, especially since most states have added their own modifications to the federal regulations. In this webinar, a policy official from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service explains the exemptions, and a state official from North Carolina explains how that state recently decided to allow one of the most important federal exemptions.
Duration: 1 hour
Management and Accounting Tools for Processors
Date: April 5, 2019
Duration: 72 minutes
Watch Donna Moore of Piedmont Custom Meats (North Carolina) discuss the Minotaur program she uses in her two USDA multi-species plants and Joe Cloud of T & E Meats (Virginia) discuss the brand new Carlisle Technology program he uses in his USDA plant. Both co-pack for hundreds of farmers and have to manage complex systems of meat tracking and accounting. These tracking/traceability programs can save labor, reduce error, improve customer satisfaction, and open up new market opportunities.
Duration: 1 hour
A processor and a marketer, both specializing in niche meats, explain the ins and outs of how to cost out products efficiently and effectively, including insights on inventory management.
Duration: 1 hour
How to keep track of everything? Three meat companies showcase the computer systems they are using: why they use them, how they work, and how much they cost.
Duration: 68 minutes
Small and mid-sized meat processors are increasingly being asked by their customers to go through third party audits for a range of standards and practices. On this webinar, auditors explain what to expect from – and how to prepare for – audits for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), food safety, animal welfare, and certified organic. A processor with ample audit experience will also offer tips and perspective.
Date: November 30, 2017
Duration: 70 minutes
Small meat plants serve a wide diversity of customers. Some of those customers may be asking for your plant to offer organic processing or to comply with special animal welfare practices so that they can market to certain customers and assure the integrity of their meat. Could going through the process of organic certification or passing an animal welfare review open up new customer segments for you? Is it worth it? What kind of changes to your infrastructure, equipment, or SOPs might be needed? Will the benefits outweigh the potential costs? Speakers in this webinar included: Tim Holmes of Animal Welfare Approved, Sep Harvin of Williamsburg Packing Co., Aaron Zeis of Oregon Tilth, and Tracy Smarciarz of Heritage Meats.
There has been significant consumer interest in dry cured charcuterie products, like salumi, in recent years. Consumers love it, chefs want it and it is a good way for producers and processors to get more value out of a carcass and/or really set their brand apart. Yet making dry cured products can be challenging and not always cost effective. On this webinar we’ll cover the Business of Dry Curing: we’ll hear about the growth of artisan cured meats, the basics of the business and talk to two charcuterie processors about how they got started, their day to day operations and the costs and revenue for dry curing.
Duration: 1 hourSmall Plant Operators: do you dread the busy fall season? It can be the most lucrative time of year for small meat processing facilities, but is also often the most stressful. Your plant is at full capacity between fee-for-service processing customers, hunters and holiday orders, customers want it all and they want it right now, overtime pay spikes, equipment breaks down, and you and your employees are stressed out. Sounds familiar? On this webinar, Nick McCann shares real life examples and proven strategies for solving common problems in meat plant management: excessive overtime, stressed out employees, customer complaints, and quality problems that often occur during the busy fall season. (SLIDES ONLY: RECORDING NOT AVAILABLE)
Duration: 1 hourWhat makes a small-scale processing plant successful? We get asked that question on a regular basis, by NMPAN members and many others. People want to hear from operators who are making it work, using creative and innovative approaches to tackle the difficult challenge of profitability for a small-scale plant.On this webinar, we got a “behind the scenes” peek at Blue Ridge Meats, a small, USDA-inspected slaughter and processing facility in Front Royal, VA. Lois Aylestock, VP, described how they manage day to day operations, getting and keeping customers, bookkeeping, employee management, and more. She told us about systems they’ve developed, what has worked (and what hasn’t), and — this is a big one — what she wishes she knew before they got started.
Duration: 1 hourOn this webinar, we learned about humane handling practices at the processing plant. We discussed steps producers and processors can take to ensure humane treatment and how animal handling impacts meat quality. We spoke with two humane handling experts, Anna Bassett and Tim Holmes, about the research that backs AWA’s technical info and slaughter standards as well as their Animal Welfare Officer and Poultry Welfare Officer courses.Introducing a 2-part series on Human Resources Best Practices
Date: May 2, 2018
Duration: 71 minutes
Hear from 3 meat processors different strategies and best practices for finding, hiring, training, and retaining decent staff for their facilities. Panelists included Joe Cloud of T & E Meats in Virginia, a USDA inspected red meat plant that co-packs for several hundred farmers; Bruce Hennessey of Maple Wind Farms in Vermont, a USDA inspected on-farm poultry plant and livestock farm; and Evan Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms in Indiana, a USDA inspected on-farm red meat and poultry plant and livestock farm. Find a recording of this webinar here.
Date: June 21, 2018
Duration: 1 hour
For employees to successfully implement a food safety plan and produce consistently quality product, they must feel safe, trained, respected, invested, valued and empowered (STRIVE). Gain insight into the reasons that meat processors may have trouble fostering employee buy in, and explore tactics for having the hard conversations that lead to an engaged workforce, better employee retention, and the production of safer meat. Presenter was Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel DVM, founder/owner of Dirigo Food Safety, a food safety consulting firm.
Business Planning and Plant Design
Panel discussion with three USDA inspected meat processors (Jessica Smith Roosa of This Old Farm, Tracy Smaciarz of Heritage Meats, Matthew Campbell of West Texas Meats) who have either purchased existing plants, renovated them, or built brand new facilities. What was their thought process? Pros and cons of how they went about launching their plants and how they financed them. William Kitsch, Vice President of Agricultural Lending at Ephrata National Bank in Ephrata, PA rounded out the discussion to talk from a bankers perspective as well as share some potential financing options.
Duration: 1 hour
Food Safety & Quality
All about making delicious smoked meats on a commercial scale while operating your smokehouse safely (and not burning down your plant!). Our expert panelists discussed smokehouse types, picking the right equipment/size for your operation, smokehouse operations, recordkeeping, value-added meat products, cleaning, and safety. Speakers included Mike Smucker of Smuckers Meats, Collier Nix of Kerres USA, and Jon Frohling of Scottpec. Please note this webinar had technical difficulties the first 10 minutes and Mike Smucker was unable to present his slides. So the bulk of the webinar was with Collier Nix & Jon Frohling.
In September, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued revised guidance about controlling Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. On this webinar, Penn State University food safety scientists Martin Bucknavage and Catherine Cutter explain the revised guidance document and what processors need to know to comply.
Date: March 4, 2010
Duration: 1 hour
As interest rises in cured meats made without synthetic nitrates/nitrites, processors are seeking information on safe and effective methods. On this webinar, meat scientists, a processor, and an organic meats marketer explain ingredients, processes, and challenges to natural curing, as well as product labeling issues.
HACCP — Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point — has been around for decades as a food safety management system in many different industries. Starting in 2000, USDA required all inspected meat & poultry establishments to have a HACCP plan in place and to follow that plan. So what is it? How does it work? What are the basics? On this webinar, you’ll learn the ABCs of HACCP — vocabulary and basic concepts — from an experienced HACCP instructor, Jonathan Campbell from Penn State University.
Duration: 1 hour
Coordinators of three new mobile poultry processing units explain how the units work and discuss challenges, strategies, and lessons learned in bringing these units on line.
Duration: 1 hour
This webinar features the first USDA-inspected red meat MPU; the latest ideas and options for mobile units; policy challenges to getting an MPU up & running in Montana; and an economic feasibility cost-calculator spreadsheet for MPUs.
Duration: 90 minutes each
Description:These two webinars, offered by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, explain red meat and poultry mobile slaughter units. Presentations cover technical and practical aspects, regulatory compliance, and financial assistance programs. Recordings and slides available (January 2010).
Duration: 1 hour, 4 minutes
–Brian Sapp, Director of Operations, White Oak Pastures, Georgia
–Greg Gunthorp, Owner/Operator, Brushy Prairie Packing/Gunthorp Family Farms, Indiana
-Holly Zink, Co-Owner of Sunnyside Farms Market and Sunnyside Meats, Colorado
Date: March 30, 2016
Duration: 1 hour
Managing, treating and removing solid waste and wastewater often comes at a significant cost for small-scale meat processing facilities. For those new to meat processing, or those looking for new ideas for their plant, this webinar provided a general overview on waste management for both solid waste and wastewater. We discussed wastewater management, basic systems and pre-treatment options, and regulations. We also covered solid waste streams (things like manure, bones, trim, etc.) and solutions for dealing with those various waste streams.
Date: July 23, 2013
Duration: 50 minutes
Finding an affordable and legal way to manage wastewater can be very challenging for small meat and poultry processors. In this webinar, you will learn about an innovative, economic approach that a small, USDA-inspected processor in rural Indiana is using with great results: a constructed wetlands system. Greg Gunthorp of Brushy Prairie Packing and Gunthorp Farms, and Craig Chivers, environmental sanitarian with LaGrange County Health Department, explain how the system is designed and how it works, give data about its effectiveness in improving water quality, and discuss costs, the permitting process, and other aspects of using this type of system for a meat plant.
Date: December 1, 2009
Duration: 1 hour
Disposal of offal and butcher waste is often increasingly difficult and expensive, as renderers close down or raise prices. Composting this waste has been demonstrated as a viable, safe alternative. An expert in butcher waste composting explains how it’s done, and a small meat processor in Oregon describes his composting operation, including regulations and permitting process.
Working Effectively With Your Processor
Understanding the Processor’s Language
Date: September 15, 2009
Duration: 60 minutes
The Executive Director of the American Association of Meat Processors explains how processors do what they do, from yield grades and cutting specifications, inspection and other regulatory requirements, meat handing and shelf life, improving communications with your processor, and more.
Date: August 24, 2011
Duration: 1 hour
Some processors give their new processing customers a “how to work with us” manual, to help with the education process. On this webinar, we learned about manuals used by two small plants: Wells Jenkins Wells, in North Carolina, and Homegrown Poultry, in Idaho. We also showed an online model you can use to write your own.
The Finger Lakes Meat Project is a regional initiative in New York State to grow the freezer trade (sales of meat in bulk quantities such as whole, half and quarter animals) to benefit livestock farmers and consumers. The Project consists of educational efforts, an online directory of farms called The Meat Suite and two community freezers in Central NY called The Meat Locker. On this archived webinar recording, you can learn more about the project, how it got started and its value to local farms.
(Partner Webinar) Food Animal Concerns Trust: Direct Marketing Meat- The Logistics of Meat Processing
Recording of webinar here
Slide presentation only here
Animal Welfare Best Practices
Do you slaughter animals under inspection (or want to)? Then watch this webinar featuring Ben Meyer of Revel Meat Company who recently completed a Robust Systematic Humane Handling & Slaughter Plan with the help of a consultant and is now happy to share it with others. Also on the panel was Dr. Sallee Dixson, DVM, of the USDA FSIS. Dr. Dixson is currently a Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian (SPHV) Relief with Denver District. Her career with FSIS includes five years focused on the humane handling (HH) of livestock and good commercial practices (GCP) for poultry. As the first Humane Handling Enforcement Coordinator, she served as the primary national FSIS contact for issues on HH and GCP issues, oversaw the national coordination of HH/GCP policy implementation for FSIS, and coordinated with the 15 DVMSs on correlation of HH/GCP activities among districts.
Dr. Sallee Dixson’s slide show presentation
Revel Meat Co (formerly Mark’s Meats) 2019 Robust Systematic Humane Handling Plan
Consciousness Training Posters (displayed around Revel Meat Co. kill floor), zip file
Shot Placement Posters (displayed around Revel Meat Co. kill floor), zip file
NMPAN was thrilled to have an hour webinar with Dr. Joe Regenstein, one of the world’s foremost experts on religious animal slaughter, to better understand what exactly is Kosher and Halal animal slaughter, how it can be done under USDA inspection, and what are the best practices to assure humane kill under these religious tenets.
Dr. Joe M. Regenstein is a Professor Emeritus of Food Science in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, a member of the Program of Jewish Studies and the Comparative Muslim Societies Program. Dr. Regenstein heads the Cornell Kosher and Halal Food Initiative (CKHFI). Dr. Regenstein is now on the advisory board of the Food Diversity Innovation Program at Texas A&M University and on an advisory board for the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. Dr. Regenstein has also worked on a halal standards committee of the Islamic Society of North American and on a committee to develop an accreditation program for the Muslim Society of Britain.
Slide presentation can be found here
An additional paper Dr. Joe authored that deep dives into Kosher Slaughter practices can be found here