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Meat science program aims to train next generation of local butchers

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Amanda Winchester
Two meat science students during last semesters soft launch of the program.

This fall, Central Wyoming College (CWC) is offering classes in meat science. The program aims to educate the next generation of butchers and small scale meat processors in the state. There are two options: an associate degree in meat science and a certificate you can complete in a semester.

This is one of only a handful of meat science programs in the nation and the first in Wyoming. The program teaches United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, food safety, and how to responsibly butcher an animal.

Meat science program director Amanda Winchester said she hopes the program spreads an awareness for the importance of locally produced meats especially because the price of beef, itself, is low.

“The big packing plants make all the money because they've set the prices and they get to charge more for the product that they bought,” she said. “Because they bought all of those animals that they're processing and so by doing it locally, you're helping the producer and you're helping that business.”

Currently, four companies - Cargril, Tyson Foods, GBS and National Beef Packing - control 85 percent of the hog, cattle and chicken market.

Winchester said part of the training in the program is educating the public on where food comes from.

“We need to know where our foods come from and try to have a better supply of it, and eat a more local supply. So we know what's in it, that it's good quality, and that it's available, instead of relying on the big corporations to provide us products,” said Winchester.

CWC has its own USDA approved meat processing plant called Rustler Cattle Company.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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