A Good Way To Change

meat processing students

During the 1974-75 school year I attended a High School Vocational Meat Processing program where the curriculum consisted primarily of animal harvest, carcass cut fabrication and small retail meat market operational knowledge.   At that time moderate sized meat plants were in most fairly large towns, neighborhood butcher shops were still widespread and both establishment types would employ young people possessing basic meat market and/or butchering skills.  Conversely, today’s mega meat plant line workers, be it slaughter carcass fabrication or packaging, are easily trained to do a few repetitive tasks as animal carcasses or product pass by on moving chains or conveyor belts.  Economies of scale in production, primary processing and distribution have made meat available everywhere at a lower price.  This modern world reality has created a greater than ever opportunity for meat retailers to minimally further process an abundance of high quality underutilized red meat cuts.  Disappointingly, the few Vocational High School Meat Processing programs that still exist around the Great Lakes region of the US are still teaching the same curriculum that they were before meat industry consolidation became a fact of life.  This situation seems to be at least a partial waste of the attending student’s good faith efforts and a misuse of precious educational funds.  Vocational High School administrators might need input from modern day meat experts in order to realize that teaching only slaughter, meat cutting and retail shop operation is not enough for present day meat industry interested youth.  A more well-rounded program would include worthwhile minimal processing procedures, including game meat, and some culinary skills relating to meat containing entrees.  This modern skill set facilitates financial gain by adding value to underutilized red meat cuts and fits in well with the buy-local trend spreading across our service based economy.  There is a proven market for convenience products so high quality, in-store, minimally processed, convenient meat items would surly be lucrative.  Old school Meat Processing Programs should have long ago evolved into Worthwhile Artisan Meat Processing programs.

Projected job placements or eventual jobs for modern meat processing trained High school students:

-Large harvest plant underutilized cuts salesperson

-Further processing meat plant production supervisor or R&D employee

-Restaurant meat specialist

-Wholesale club store small business consultant/in-store further processor

-Cafeteria, firehouse & soup kitchen consultant

-Modern Artisan meat shop employee or proprietor (including hunting season game processing)

-Meat processing equipment & supply sales person

-University Education Extension agent

-National Meat Board employee

-USDA Marketing Specialist

-Beef Brand employee


Written by George Wolfer

George Wolfer

Been associated with the meat industry pretty much since starting at a Vocational High school Meat Processing program in 1974. Like to learn and teach interesting and worthwhile livestock production, meat processing and marketing practices.

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