Maine announced Friday that it will provide inspectors to three Maine meat processors to make it easier for farmers to get meat to market and to improve the state food supply chain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The three processors are small and currently slaughter animals for individuals’ personal use. Having inspectors on-site to oversee the slaughter and butchering will allow the processors, or their customers, sell meat to consumers.

Brady Hatch of Hatch’s Custom Meat in Crystal said he currently processes wildlife, particularly moose, for his customers. The grant of inspectors for 90 days will allow him to add farm-raised animals, such as cattle, pigs and sheep.

Most of his customers will likely sell the meat themselves, either at farmer’s markets or stores they operate on their farms, Hatch said.

State officials say the move will improve the supply chain for meat in Maine. Many of the larger processors in the region are backed up because some processing plants have shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This will open up a new market for me,” Hatch said, saying he will likely be able to process four to six animals a week under the inspection plan. That may allow him to operate his custom meat business full-time – it’s a part-time operation now – and increase the hours for his two part-time workers.

The state also authorized inspectors for Watson’s Custom Butcher Shop in Etna and Blake’s Slaughtering and Custom Cut Meats in Alexander.

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