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Viroqua, WI - Meat Processor Open for Business
by Elena Byrne
10/08/14 Organic Processing Institute

Driftless Meats and More is up and running with their slaughter and fabrication processes, and working towards opening their retail store. It’s a fast turnaround considering that Doug and Kris Wolf just purchased the former Premier Meats facility in July.

“This week we’ll find out if everything’s in place to open the retail store,” plant manager Tim Rehbein said, and added that their website is being developed.

They already have a Facebook page, and a website soon to come will allow farmers to see the processing schedule before they set up a work order. Slaughter occurs two days a week—Tuesday and Thursday—increased from their expectation, partly due to demand following the recent county fair.

Another significant demand comes from Black Earth Meats, now a client of Driftless Meats and More for their slaughter services. Black Earth Meats recently stopped doing slaughter, but instead will continue with fabrication—cuts.

Driftless Meats and More will process beef, swine, sheep and goats, with an emphasis on serving the demand for grass-fed and organic.

In addition to Rehbein, the processing staff consists of eight full-time employees in production, as well as a full time office manager.

As far as processing services, Rehbein says they will process any number of animals, but it’s best to schedule the work at least a month in advance. “There’s no minimum,” he said, “we’ll do just one animal.” They will also take special fabrication instructions for individual customers.

They expect that 95% of the slaughter and cuts they do will be on producer-owned animals. Driftless Meats will only take ownership of an animal if they purchase it at the unloading dock.

Driftless Meats has their conditional inspection permit, which allows them to operate as a USDA inspected plant for 90 days. During that period they are subject to reviews for records and operations, after which a determination is made for their approval.

“I’ve been waiting for this review so we can discuss any changes they would like us to make, and then we’ll go ahead with our ‘Animal Welfare Approved’ certification. That, along with our organic certification, is part of our next steps.”

Rehbein hopes to have his organic certification in place by the end of November.

When complimented on the impressive amount of work they had done since announcing the new business in July, Rehbein admitted it has been a steep learning curve. Then, chuckling, he let me know that their office manager smiled as he said that.

As of this week, an opening date for the retail store at E7342 Three Chimney Road in Viroqua has been set for Wednesday, October 29th. Processing is ongoing, and Rehbein says they are now booking dates for slaughter and processing into November.

For more information, visit the Driftless Meats and More Facebook page.


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