11 February 2010

State budget cuts threaten good, clean, and fair meat

Last week, Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration eased up slightly on his plan to slash funding for inspection of meat processing plants throughout the state. While the Governor originally announced a 50% cut in the program's budget--a gash made even deeper since federal matching funds would decrease as well--the Indiana State Board of Animal Health which overseas the meat processing inspection has reported that their budget will be cut by less than 50%. How much less? The Governor's office hasn't been able to answer that question yet.

Check out the clear and concise answers that the folks at Royer Farm have written about what it means if there isn't enough funding for meat processing inspections in Indiana.

As for Slow Food, while it may seem like funding for meat processing inspection has more to do with clean than good or fair, the budget cuts threaten all three of Slow Food's guiding principles.

Good: Some of the state's tastiest, most appealing meat and poultry comes from small, family farms. These little, independent operations tend to be customers of the state's 134 smallest meat processing facilities, the same facilities that face the greatest risk of closing or decreasing operations because of state budget cuts.

Clean: Of course, processing meat must be done cleanly, but the farmers who tend to bring their herds to the type of processing facilities threatened by the budget cuts are the same farmers who think about clean in every aspect of their operation. Beyond the rubber boots and the face masks, they work hard not to sully their animals with artificial growth stimulants, genetically modified feed, or cramped living conditions. They respect the health of their land and strive to provide their customers with healthy, wholesome food.

Fair: Cutting the budget for meat processing inspection means jobs lost, local economies threatened, and--since all meat that's sold or donated in Indiana must be processed at an inspected facility--greater opportunity for industrial meat producers as little, local competitors lose access to the only way to get their product to market.

While most of us--including the state--are faced with challenging budget decisions these days, there are ways to let the Governor's administration and our representatives know that good, clean, and fair food is our priority. Here are a few...
  • contact Governor Daniels (317-232-4567 or email http://www.in.gov/gov/2631.htm) and tell him to reinstate funding for the Indiana Meat and Poultry Inspection Program
  • find your state representative and senator here and tell them to support funding of the Indiana Meat and Poultry Inspection Program
  • buy all-natural meat and poultry from local farmers who produce good, clean, and fair food...you might find some options here

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