Friday, November 10, 2023

Bay Area Ranchers mobile slaughterhouse folds after less than 2 years, dealing blow to local livestock industry

 The bad news came “out of the blue” last December, recalled Jeff Kent, owner of Takenoko Farms in Windsor. The evening before he was supposed to haul a trailer of his hogs to Petaluma for slaughter, Kent got an email from the Bay Area Ranchers Co-Operative — the BAR-C for short. His appointment was canceled.

The news wouldn’t become official for another 11 months, but the BAR-C was finished.

That cooperative consisted of around 40 livestock ranchers — two dozen of them from Sonoma County — who raised $1.2 million to purchase their own slaughterhouse, and in so doing take firmer control of their destinies.The 36-foot-long mobile processing plant filled a critical gap for the ranchers, who were often left scrambling, their operations disrupted by the shrinking number of options for livestock slaughter.

Their need became more acute in late 2019 when Marin Sun Farms, whose Petaluma slaughterhouse is the only USDA-certified facility in the Bay Area, announced that it would no longer process animals for private rancher-owned labels. That left livestock owners with little choice than to truck their animals to Eureka or the Central Valley for processing.

And so, after years of fundraising and education, the BAR-C was unveiled in February 2022 with considerable fanfare, including the presence of an undersecretary from the U.S. Department of Agriculture...more

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