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When it comes to red meat, there are only four USDA-inspected slaughterhouses in New Hampshire, which means that farmers are having to book a slaughter date anywhere from 18 to 24 months ahead of time, according to a legislative report released this month.

The situation for poultry isn’t better, without a single USDA-inspected slaughter facility in New Hampshire. This means some farmers are traveling with their birds as far as New Jersey to go to slaughter, the report found. The problem existed before the pandemic, although Covid-19 made it more acute, as the demand for local meat surged.

The authors of the report recommended the Legislature act by establishing business loans for agricultural producers and processors. Those loans could be managed by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority. Making money available to cover expensive startup costs could help increase the number of slaughter facilities, processing facilities and cold storage facilities.

According to the report, “One area where the state may be able to provide assistance is in helping new ventures get over the initial capital funding barrier to setting up a facility.”

This sort of loan program would be aimed at helping farmers who are raising poultry like chicken and turkeys, as well as the main red meat animals like beef cattle, swine, sheep and goats. – AMANDA GOKEE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BULLETIN

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