Students at Central Wyoming College will soon be able to learn the ins-and-outs of livestock slaughtering and meat processing. That's thanks to a nearly $800,000 grant from Wyoming Works, a statewide program aimed at helping adult students develop vocational skills and secure employment.
The grant will allow the community college to hire a meat processing instructor and purchase a vehicle and equipment for a mobile slaughtering lab.
CWC President Brad Tyndall said the goal is to help Fremont County get the most out of its livestock industry by boosting its capacity to process and sell meat locally.
"I'm an economist. I think that higher education has an important role to play in economic development. So, we're working very much with local ranchers, farmers, restaurants and others to try to build local food capacity," Tyndall said.
Right now, Tyndall said that the average rancher in Fremont County only keeps about one third of a given animal's potential revenue.
"Most of them will send their animal off and someone else fattens it, slaughters it, gets all the revenue from sales, all the revenue from marketing. And so for us to capture two thirds more of the animal, we need to do the food processing piece," Tyndall said.
The Wyoming Works grant will fund the meat processing program over the next four years. Students at Eastern Wyoming College and in the Northern Wyoming Community College District will also have access to the program through a consortium partnership.
Tyndall said the meat processing program will fit into CWC's Rocky Mountain Complex, a work-in-progress initiative to bolster Fremont County's agro-tourism economy by training students in agricultural and equine sciences. The college hopes to begin offering meat processing courses as early as summer of 2020.
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