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Thursday, July 7, 2022

West Virginia Legislature Blog

Interim Report: Committee on Ag and Rural Development

The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development met on June 14, 2022 and heard a presentation on Meat Processing Facilities in the state.

West Virginia has 25 commercial processing plants with 17 of them being slaughter-only plants. Twenty-three custom-exempt plants provide slaughtering and processing services, but the meat isn’t available for sale. West Virginia is one of 27 states that have its only meat inspection licensing. Therefore, plants have the option of being inspected by the state or federal government. Some states only have the federal option. If meat is going to be sold across state lines, it must be federally inspected. Commercial plants are inspected daily, and every animal is inspected while it is alive and during the slaughter process to ensure it is safe for human consumption. Processing plants are also inspected for sanitation.

The federal government handles import and export as well as egg and catfish inspection. WV’s state licensure only includes red meat and poultry.

The limitations of the meat processing industry include the size of the plants. The plants are small and primarily for local or regional processing. The size of the plants doesn’t have the compacity to handle mechanic operations and because of this, the industry is labor-intensive. Staffing is another limitation, as it is difficult to find skilled employees. Advertising for the industry needs to be more frequent and target younger generations to teach them about meat processing.

WVU and 17 high schools have meat processing labs, which are inspected by the state. Several of the high school instructors have expressed their want to use the labs more often.

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