Adams Farm opens state-inspected slaughter facility


WILMINGTON -- Tina Cullen, an owner of Adams Farm, says an all around service will be provided through a new slaughter plant built over the last year.

"We'll provide service for anybody in the state of Vermont that has their own store and they sell their own meat. We're state certified so they can bring their animals here and we pack them up. And they put their own labels on it and sell it in their own store," she said.

The first slaughter is scheduled for May 5. Two weeks later, fresh beef will be available to the public.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Meat Inspection Program Chief Randy Quenneville said in the past, farmers in the region had to travel to Westminster or Massachusetts to receive the services under inspection. He believes that the Adams Farm facility would hold roughly a dozen to 15 cattle.

"Anything that's slaughtered without inspection is not eligible for sale," said Quenneville.

Adams Farm butcher Bill Staats was enthusiastic about the certification. He said it will be great for the economy and the newly available services will enable local farmers to fill their freezer and their pockets.

"They can bring it to our facility, have us process it under state inspection and if they have an extra cow or two, an extra pig, or extra chickens, we can disperse it and make them a little money," he added.

For now, Adams Farm can only sell its meat in within the state. It may go for federal inspection, under United States Department of Agriculture regulations, in the future. Quenneville pointed out that having federal inspection would be beneficial due to the farm's close proximity to neighboring states.

The farm is planning to have beef, chicken, turkey, ducks and rabbit available for sale. Emu will be sold during the summer.

The project began in February 2013. Building the facility and getting it into compliance with state regulations has cost just over $700,000.

"We started talking to the state as soon as we started breaking ground," said Dave Walker, who was responsible for building the facility from the bottom up.

He told the Reformer that guidelines were followed for meeting state inspection criteria, which involved a lot of writing. The paperwork asked for information pertaining to standard operating procedures, sanitation procedures and hazards.

"You have to know what you're making, all the hazards that could happen, what you're going to do to prevent those hazards and all your monitoring of the laws you have to keep while you're doing that," said Walker. "It's quite the process."

The process was explained in the paperwork, ranging from how the animals would be handled to how it would be packaged.

With 10 years of slaughtering experience for various farmers in the area, operating in a facility will be different for Staats.

In the past, his work was done in a field. Now, it will be done in a building specifically geared for it with an inspector stopping by on a daily basis.

The facility itself contains a few different rooms or sections. In order to meet state inspection, it had to be a full facility, which had to contain "a dirty room" as well as "a clean room."

The room where the animal would be cleaned had to have all the proper elements to ensure the process will be a sanitary one. Walker compared it to a car wash.

There is a stun pen for the bigger animals. After being stunned, animals are lifted up on a beam and the processing begins.

"After we get it all skinned, then we gut it. Then we split it then we give it a good wash down," said Staats.

Most meat remains in an aging cooler for approximately seven days. It depends on the animal. This cooler is maintained at a temperature that never goes above 40 degrees.

From that cooler, the meat is brought to a finished product cooler. It could also possibly go into a finished product freezer, if it is going to be held for a longer duration.

A separate cooler is kept for meat that cannot be used in order to safeguard against cross contamination.

Cullen, who is Kip Adams' wife, said that the Adams Farm is a five generation farm. The couple had purchased the farm from Kip's father Bill Adams.

Throughout the years, the property was used for dairy, logging, wood making and maple syrup. Then it became a place for children to play with animals.

"When the times changed with the economy, you couldn't afford to do something like that," said Cullen. "People just weren't spending money."

The property was then put up for sale to the general public after being in the family since 1865. Kip and Cullen started brainstorming, looking for a way to buy it.

"What we're doing is basically a full circle of life," said Cullen. "People love the baby animals. That's the hit of everything. So with the animals, what do you do with the big ones?"

With a growing demand now for food without antibiotics and hormones, she said that the farm will be able to provide good, wholesome meat. Employees there will know the grain that the animals eat, which is all natural and produced in Vermont. Animals are grass fed and are given hay.

Since January 2013, state inspected slaughter plants as well as processing plants in Vermont have doubled.

In 2005, there were only three state inspected plants. Currently, there are six and more are on the way, Quenneville said.

A red meat plant is slated to open in Milton in the summer. Two poultry plants will open in Berlin and Randolph before the summer.

When under state inspection, every day an inspector will show up. The agency has requested that legislature increase the amount of inspectors hired due to the increase in facilities.

"I think it's a good thing. The more places available, the more producers can get into the marketplace and not have to think about things black market wise. Also, it helps with the customer service and availability of inspection services," said Quenneville. "Some may argue with me, saying there's too many of them. My personal opinion is competition is a healthy thing."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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