Its no secret. We have all felt the pinch of inflation over the last few months. You've seen prices rise on your favorite products in the grocery store, houses, hardware... you name it, the price has gone up. The costs on our end of the business have also risen. The price of feed, the lack of rain we have had in the last few months has been pretty detrimental to the hay crop and pastures.
Now, I have tried to keep prices reasonable because I just felt it was something I needed to do. It felt right. People deserve to eat a good product for an affordable price instead of garbage food that is the easy way out. However, I am now to the point where I have to raise my prices slightly. Why though? Why now? My hands are tied. They are tied because my own costs have gone up. Costs to get these animals processed for all of you. Processing fees over the last couple of years have gone up slightly, but not enough for me to worry. But now, things are changing.
I have nothing but good things to say about my processing facility. Caledonia Packing has been a HUGE part of why my business has been successful. I wouldn't be where I am without them. I walk in there every month at least once if not twice and its always like "coming home." I like to tell people its like Cheers, you know.... everyone knows your name. I always feel like they truly care. I mean for goodness sakes, they love my kids and spoil them rotten every time we go there. How many processors get you a baby gift? So like I said, its been a very special working relationship and I cherish it. Caledonia Packing is my one stop shop for all my beef, pork, lamb, and goat needs. USDA slaughter and packaging with my label (which they helped me perfect!)... they make me look professional and for that I am also very grateful. I mean look at that pretty package of delmonico steaks!
Now lets throw the State of Michigan into the mix. We need to have permits and licenses for what seems like everything in the world of agriculture if you're of any sizeable facility. Michigan agriculture has been under the microscope my the Michigan Department of Ag (MDARD) and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (MDEGL). Now let's zoom in on the meat processing facilities in our great state. Each facility does a thorough cleaning after every day whether that was a day spent cutting and packaging meat or having spent a day on a kill floor. Cleaning is always under a microscope and as it should be. No one wants to have their product handled in a dirty facility. There are SOPS and specific HACCP steps to take to mitigate any sort of bacterial issues in a facility. So where does all that water go? The very hot soapy water that is used to clean, depending on the facility, would go into some sort of holding area for discharge later. In Caledonia's case, they have a brand new lagoon to hold all their wash water and then they would use that to irrigate on the crops around the facility. A great way to use water for more than one application. Win win, in my book.
To make anything like that happen they have to have a discharge permit for wastewater. Yes, another government hoop to jump through. In October 2022, MDEGLE decided to update the permit for slaughterhouses that would go into effect in November 2022-November 2027. This new permit enhanced the 2015 one. The Michigan Meat Association filed a lawsuit against MDEGLE for overstepping their bounds. The proposed changes to the permit cannot be covered by the already slim profit margins in the processing business. None of the current permit holders can comply with the new set of standard that are being put forth. Because of that there haven't been any permits renewed. With the lawsuit by the MMA, the negotiations are still on going. The average expense for each processor to meet updated requirements as outlined in a settlement could be upwards of $150,000. Nothing has been settled yet. If things like this discharge permit go through, this can have a major trickle down effect on the whole agricultural industry in our great state. Processing facilities that can't handle the financial burden will close down. We already don't have enough to go around. Agriculture is the #2 industry in Michigan. Government regulations will force our small ag business out and we will all feel that pinch. Prices for local goods will skyrocket even more if we don't have facilities locally to process our meats. What's to say they will stop at slaughterhouses? They can go to the next piece of the plate? Fruit, vegetable, milk, sugar, breweries, distilleries, wineries.... we all need to be aware of what's happening in our food system.
Now back to Caledonia Packing. Instead of using that nice lagoon to store water to then use for irrigation, they are having to pay to have their waste water hauled away to a water treatment plant. A huge cost to endure for a small time USDA and custom processing plant. A hit of nearly $2000 per week just to get rid of that water. This is beyond unnecessary. To counter their huge hit to their budget every week, they are having to raise their prices. If they can't compensate for the added cost, they may have to close the doors. I don't blame them one single bit... I want them to stay in business so I will continue to support that family owned business as much as I can.
We need your help. We need you to be aware of the situation so that you know why your food cost is rising. We need you to voice your opinion on these matters to our state officials. MDEGLE is a state department and therefore should have to answer at least somewhat to out state legislature.
For more information about how the permit regulations are affecting Caledonia Packing, here's the link to their website https://caledoniapacking.com/blog/2023/06/12/emergency-action-to-avoid-shut-down/
On there, they have links to contact your elected officials and its time they hear what their constituents have to say about this over regulation.
Here's a couple more links to the Michigan Meat Association's lawsuit
So long story but I feel like you as the customer and consumer have a right to know what's happening in your own backyard. You won't find this on your local news stations, unfortunately. It's more important, now more than ever, to support your local farm. They in turn are supporting these small processors. Buy local, eat local, support small business.
And I haven't even touched on the idea of the lab grown junk that has been deemed acceptable....
Hopefully something changes
~Until Next Time