On the Ground Update- Regional Protein Forum

UMass Student Farm chickens. 

On February 16, 2017 several UMass Auxiliary staff attended a poultry forum in Grafton, MA hosted by the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative. In attendance were several Massachusetts poultry farmers and representatives from a variety of organizations such as MDAR, the USDA, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), and Massachusetts Farm to School. 

 The purpose of the forum was to discuss the local poultry industry, identify issues within it, and brainstorm possible solutions. The main problem discussed was the lack of access that many small poultry farmers have to bird processing facilities. Many Massachusetts farmers have to send their birds out of the state to be processed, and then bring them back into the state to be distributed. Multiple solutions were discussed to make processing birds more accessible, sustainable and cost-efficient. These include the idea to create a co-op among poultry farmers to share resources or a possible collaboration between the USDA and a large institution like UMass to create a new processing facility.   

Peter Diemand slicing and serving his own Diemand farm-raised turkey at Worcester Dining Hall. 

By participating in protein forums such as this one, UMass Dining can actively engage with the local farming community in order to increase sourcing of local proteins while expanding access for other consumers regionally.