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The Pandemic Has the Potential To Finally Transform Meat Processing in the U.S.

Some states are addressing the bottleneck in the industry by allowing state inspectors to approve direct-to-consumer and interstate sales. And new federal legislation could make those efforts possible nationwide.

This time last year, Tyrone Gustafson’s small Iowa slaughterhouse and butchering facility, Story City Locker, was operating at about 80 percent capacity. Today, he estimates the demand has surged to approximately 120 percent and his slaughter and butchering schedule is booked out through the end of 2021.

“[The pandemic] changed everything,” Gustafson said. “We had a lot of farmers that would take a majority of their livestock to the commercial processors, the big guys, but they had so many friends, neighbors, and family members contact them wanting to buy directly from them. We’re working overtime to try and keep up with the demand that exists from people buying direct, buying in bulk, just wanting to know where their food comes from.”

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