Upper Peninsula Meat Processing Feasibility Study results released

Strategies for growth in the Upper Peninsula’s meat value chain.

The demand for local food products continues to increase, but sourcing local products continues to be a challenge in some regions. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there has been much feedback regarding access to processing for meat products. As a result of input received from producers and buyers, a group of stakeholders applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Strategic Growth Initiative grant in the fall of 2015. They were able to conduct a feasibility study to determine if more processing is needed and what type of facility might be feasible. The study was completed in December 2016, and the executive summary and full report are now available at the U.P. Food Exchange website under the resources tab. The consultants and advisory committee will host a webinar on February 22 at 7 p.m. to share more detail on the study and the recommendations. Registration information can be found at the Michigan State University Extension event page.

The Upper Peninsula Multi-species Processing Feasibility Study Project was a cooperative venture between several stakeholders, including Marquette County, MSU Extension, Upper Peninsula Food Exchange, Farm Bureau and regional planning organizations, and hired Karen Karp & Partners along with John-Mark Hack of Marksbury Farm to conduct a feasibility study. The study was designed to understand the needs of livestock producers relating to harvest and processing and what additional resources are needed to support livestock producers in the Upper Peninsula.

The study was initiated to assess the feasibility of a new multi-species processing facility in the U.P. Based on a general finding of insufficient volumes to support a new facility, the project team concluded that such a facility would not be feasible at this time. The team did, however, find a clear need for increased slaughter and processing capacity in the region. The research team concluded that targeted initiatives could increase the region’s capacity and throughput by nurturing incremental growth in production, processing and demand.

Four primary recommendations with connected strategies were developed and focus on the following:

  • Increased communication and coordination
  • Cultivate and tapping into the greater demand for U.P.-produced meat
  • Increase access to tools and guidance for farmers and processers
  • Expand processing capacity in the Upper Peninsula

For additional information about the project, contact Michelle Walk, MSU Extension, at walkmich@msu.edu or 906-635-6368 or Thyra Karlstrom, Marquette County, at tkarlstrom@mqtco.org or 906-225-8192.

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