Just two months into our natural meats processing division that had been in the planning phases for over two years, we were met with unfortunate news. The governor had announced a 50% budget cut in the Meat and Poultry Inspection division of the Board of Animal Health. This is the agency that oversees meat processing destined for retail sales. The impact of a 50% budget cut looked like a defunct program. The impact would be the inability to locally produce retail meats. The option we saw was to go ahead with Federal Inspection which would have taken more time and energy or let industry that desires the consolidation of all meat through four major processors country wide to win the battle. Despite big business factory farms, there is a push to support local agriculture through the USDA as can be seen by the success of two grants and multiple programs and training sponsored by the USDA to encourage these regional systems. The USDA sees merit in supporting regional and local distributioon of foods. It just makes sense. Consolidated food systems create the food contamination scares like E.Coli outbreaks and recent peanut scares. Local government is under tremendous fiscal pressure to “find” money and the Meat and Poultry Division seemed to be a piece of that “found” money. Thanks to communication through letter writing, a good medium ground was found. The State program determined areas they could cut while ensuring that the program would be around to provide quality Indiana products. A 50% budget cut was not realized. Merit in our local agricultural system was seen and the impact of its threatened loss was realized. Jobs were saved. Our mission to bring choice in local meats produced without antibiotics, growth hormones, and protein tubs can now continue. I am glad we chose to speak our minds, the state inspectors appreciate it and our customers appreciate it. A special thanks goes out to all who join us in the quest for good local food choices.