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Delaware State University Mobile Meat Processing Lab (mmpl) Curriculum Development and Implementation

Investigators
McIntosh, Dennis
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2013
End date
2016
Objective
The intent of our FY2011 CBG proposal was quite simply to garner funds to upgrade the technology delivery abilities of DSU Cooperative Extension through the design and construction of a MMPL. With the current submission, we intend to build on this original initiative by developing extension programming in food safety with respect to animal slaughter and meat processing. Most importantly, and key to the successful implementation of the MMPL now that the design has been finalized and the unit is under construction, we will develop extension curriculum modules in MMPL usage, food processing safety, butcher/slaughter methods, water quality, waste management and value added financial considerations. In addition to this primary objective, we have identified five others; in the subsequent sections of this proposal, we will lay out specifically what each of these objectives is, and how we aim to accomplish them. We will: Complete the Final Fit-Out of the MMPL Develop and Refine Curriculum Modules to be used in Conjunction with the MMPL Implement Trainings Establish a Network of Demonstration 'Docking Stations' Refine MMPL Operational Budgets Evaluate the MMPL Initiative
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
This proposal builds on multiple previous activities and initiatives that have been undertaken at Delaware State University (DSU), and represents a collaborative effort be many of the DSU Cooperative Extension professionals. Though we work with different producers, growing different animals (niche market poultry, small ruminants, aquacultured fish) for market, we are all receiving the same message, namely that there is a lack of meat processing capacity in the area that our clientele can access. To that end, we have set out to develop extension programming in food safety with particular reference to animal slaughter and meat processing. This initiative is underpinned by the Mobile Meat Processing Lab that is being built with funds from a prior 1890 Capacity Building Grant proposal. Our current proposal is intended to create the necessary curriculum training modules and a network of demonstration 'docking stations.' The curriculum is planned to ensure that our extension clientele have the necessary training (ex. HACCP, SSOPs, GMPs, butchering) to enter into the value-added meat products market. The docking stations will ensure that we have a minimum number of adequately prepared sites from which we can deliver our programming. Collectively, the curriculum modules, docking stations and the Mobile Meat Processing Lab itself will allow us to provide hands-on learning opportunities to educate our clientele about proper methods of animal slaughter and meat processing to ensure that their products are safe and wholesome.

APPROACH:
A. Complete the Final Fit-Out of the MMPL With our FY 2011 CBG we planned for and budgeted to construct the MMPL and outfit it to be a fully functional, albeit manual, processing facility. This original plan included the use of two pieces of poultry processing equipment that the University already owned. Unfortunately, as the design was finalized, it was apparent that this equipment was too large to be used. As a result, we will replace these items with two smaller, custom designed and manufactured pieces of equipment that will fit the space and planned processing capabilities better. In addition, we plan to upgrade the processing capabilities of the MMPL through the addition of a vacuum eviscerator to increase poultry processing throughput, and a stun knife to the killing station that will ensure that poultry is slaughtered humanely. B. Develop and Refine Curriculum Modules to be used in Conjunction with the MMPL One of the major objectives of this current CBG funding request is to create curriculum modules so that our clientele can have the most up-to-date training, to produce wholesome and quality food. The curriculum will be written so that the adult clientele will learn: By doing - learning in the real life environment of the MMPL, not in a classroom; By thinking - being presented with a situation that they would encounter in operating MMPL and getting the facts, discussing it with their peers, putting their decision into action and then testing the solution; By seeing - extension personnel will provide demonstrations as outlined in the curriculum, then using an outline for the activity, clientele will practice what they have learned; By being told - the clientele will, at times, have instructional lectures with handouts, especially regarding HAACP, SSOP, and GMPs. By being checked and corrected - through practice sessions, clientele will be able to have constructive feedback on areas that they need to improve so that they will be competent to operate the MMPL at their own site. Assessments will also be provided using competency-based instruction so that the users of the MMPL meet the requirements of a USDA certified meat processing facility. The curriculum design and development will take place in months 0-18, with modules being pilot-tested with extension personnel as they are completed. A field trial will be done for six months following the completion of all modules with adjustments being made to better meet the needs of the trainers, the learners, and to make sure that all necessary information to the success of running the MMPL is included. C. Implement Trainings DSU will implement hands-on trainings in conjunction with current extension programs in year one to introduce farmers to the MMPL's process and benefits. Farmers who are interested in using the MMPL will be asked to sign a letter of commitment to complete the steps necessary (creation of SSOPs, HACCP certification) to use the MMPL. Extension educators will then set a training schedule to cover the remainder of the teaching modules. These advanced training will be covered in a 6-8 week series, so that the competencies to successfully and safely operate the MMPL can be monitored without a loss of knowledge due to extended training breaks. Training workshops will be repeated in years two and three for niche market poultry and one small-ruminant producers. Additional trainings in years two and three for farmers interested in using the MMPL with alternative species (i.e., fish, rabbits, red deer) will also be offered. D. Establish a Network of Demonstration 'Docking Stations' To ensure that we have a minimum number of adequately prepared sites from which we can deliver extension programming we will establish five MMPL docking stations throughout the state. Two of the docking stations will be located on DSU property and three will be partnerships between DSU and DE farmers. Site preparations will include making sure there is a level stone pad for animal slaughter and trailer parking, sufficient electrical service and water supply within range of the MMPL. As user demand for the MMPL increases, we anticipate that the original five docking stations will also serve as 'models' from which prospective farmer/operators can see what the necessary site improvements need to be in order to use the MMPL on their farms. E. Refine MMPL Operational Budgets There are two primary foci to refining the operational budgets for using the MMPL. The first is an internal need to capture operational expenses so that we can set/adjust user-fees. The second is so that our clientele can properly assess their potential profitability with respect to value-added meat products. Necessarily, these two questions will be addressed differently. To pay for maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure, we plan to implement a fee-for-use cost recovery program, whereby small farmers who utilize the MMPL to process their own livestock will pay a per-animal fee. To specifically address the question of establishing MMPL user-fees, DSU Cooperative Extension employees will need to quantify the several key metrics once the MMPL is completed and in operation. Direct costs will include fuel usage, cleaning chemicals, and product packaging materials; maintenance costs to pay for MMPL wear and tear; equipment depreciation; and DSU Cooperative Extension employee time. Collectively, these 'costs' will be tracked as the MMPL is used by our clientele so that the user-fees can be adjusted appropriately. Similarly, it is critical for our clientele to know what their true costs are when evaluating any new venture. Switching from animal production to value-added meat product sales is no different. Therefore, DSU Cooperative Extension employees will work closely with client processors to gather pertinent data. This information will primarily include product sales prices and processing labor costs. Separate processing operational budgets will be created for small-ruminants, poultry and fish. F. Evaluate the MMPL Initiative Each of the planned training sessions will be evaluated to determine: changes in knowledge, skills, and intention after each training usefulness of resources and tools provided in curricula suggested improvements to the curricula suggested changes to outreach to improve engagement with interested farmers new networks or connections fostered among farmers who use the MMPL To document real change in management, planning, and income, we will work closely with our participants to ensure regular communications and follow-up with farmers. Follow-up will take place three months after trainings to verify changes and preparations necessary for MMPL use by committed farmers. Examples of specific changes will be collected. We will also collect contact information from 15 farmers who participate in trainings and wish to commit to the use of the MMPL. These farmers will be directly interviewed by the project team to collect qualitative information on their farming operations and to get suggestions on improving curricula delivery. Additionally, information on the changes they make to their farm plans and management will be collected. Interviews will be reformatted as short case studies for use with future MMPL training programs and to document program impacts.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX2013-001
Accession number
1000816
Categories
Education and Training
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game