Rare, medium or shipped UPS?

South Dakota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2008  | January 2008 issue

We're eating a lot of red meat these days, and small South Dakota slaughterhouses are hoping to get an opportunity to carve for out-of-state plates.

Currently, only slaughterhouses inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture can ship meat across state lines. There are about 2,900 red meat slaughterhouses nationwide, and about 800 (28 percent) are federally inspected. The rest are regulated by states.

But language in the latest farm bill would allow state-inspected slaughterhouses to ship meat outside their home states. That would be a welcome change in South Dakota, which ranked 12th in the nation in terms of slaughter plants (with 97) and 14th in terms of red meat production by weight. But the state has a much higher percentage of state-inspected slaughterhouses, at 90 percent (or 88 plants).

Such a change would also coincide with recent increases in red meat production. In October, monthly production in South Dakota rose about 20 percent to more than 100 million pounds.

Ronald A. Wirtz