Farmers have one fewer meat processor after M&M Meats shuts doors
MANCHESTER, Md. (March 6, 2018) — Manchester is a small incorporated town in northeastern Carroll County, Md. The population was 4,808 at the 2010 census.
A meat processing plant, known as M&M Meats, was established there in 1962. Its motto has been, “The only butcher shop in town.”
Not for long. Its owners have informed producers that, after 46 years, it will close June 30 and will not book any animals for butchering or processing after April 27.
There used to be nine USDA-approved facilities in Carroll County, said George B. Maurer, one of the facility’s owners. Now there are three. He said he serves roughly 60 to 70 meat producers in addition to local restaurants.
So why not sell the business?
“It used to be that you had farm boys that grew up working on the farm and got a job working around animals, who are used to the manure, the kills, the smells,” Maurer said, sitting inside his shop last week. “Well, those family farms have died off. Those farms are now housing developments, and it’s more of a, ‘You’ve got to go to college. You’ve got to be a computer guru.’”
The business leases its property, and its ownership has reached retirement age, said Maurer, who is 65. Running a kill floor is also a difficult, demanding and dangerous job.
“We’re going to quit while we’re ahead,” he said. “We’re solvent, we’re good. It’s just time.”
Many customers were surprised to learn of the shop’s closing, Maurer said, and although he gave them a list of other meat processors in the state, many of them are overbooked, with waiting lists.
David Greene, a retired University of Maryland Extension agent and noted sheep breeder in White Hall, Md., is one of the scores of producers impacted by the closing of the facility. Green and his wife, Nancy, market the lambs from their farm and have been shipping to the facility for butchering and processing for four decades.
Through those years, Greene estimates they have shipped between 70 to 80 animals a year. The closing of M&M Meats is going to send producers scrambling for another USDA-approved processor. The business sent letters to its customers in early February telling them of the closure.
“This closing not only presents a hardship to us but literally hundreds of small producers in the central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania,” Greene said.
M&M Meats served as a USDA-inspected plant that enabled small producers, like the Greenes and Green Farm, to sell, from their farm, value-added products raised on their farm.
“One of the obstacles preventing the increase in sales of locally produced livestock products in our state is the limited number of USDA-inspected animal processing facilities,” David Greene said. “The closing of Maurer and Miller Meats Inc. only exacerbates this problem.”
The M&M shop in Manchester is about 20 miles away from Greene Farm. The nearest other processing plant for their animals is about 50 miles away in Pennsylvania, Greene said.
Even at that, “many of those other USDA facilities are already at capacity,” he said.
Greene, who served Maryland Extension as a livestock and grain specialist from his office in Carroll County, retired in 1999. He and Nancy had purchased the farm in 1979.
“She has been the one who has worked with Maurer and Miller and has crafted all the various meat cuts we offer plus has worked with them in the labeling of our special lamb sausage.
“I just raise the sheep,” Greene said, “Nancy is the marketer.”
What of the future? What of the process now imposed to find a new butcher?
“We are evaluating,” Greene said. “We are both 75; we aren’t sure.”