Oklahoma Ag Sec. Blayne Arthur Praises Career Tech For Taking Quick Action To Train Meat Processing WorkforceWed, 24 Jun 2020 14:17:50 CDT
Oklahoma took a major step towards meeting the workforce void in the meat processing industry this week when the Oklahoma Career Technology Center and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture announced new educational programs to train potential industry workers.
Sec. of Agriculture Blayne Arthur talked with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about the new educational venture.
The curriculum Career Tech is offering certainly fills a void with our work force, Arthur said.
Career Tech plans to offer multi-level, customizable, online courses to provide students with the certification that aligns with the American Meat Science Association, while still supporting industry need.
Arthur said there are many meat producers who want to sell locally but canít get a processing date this year or 2021 due to the lack of processing capacity.
Weíve got a lot of entrepreneurs wanting to open a facility, so it helps them, beef producers and many others in rural areas in the state, Arthur said. This solves problems across the board. A lot of times, we just address one piece of something, but this provides a solution to both our producers and consumers.
Arthur said the joint task force between the agriculture department and the Oklahoma Cattlemenís Association has looked closely at this issue.
Certainly a lot of the discussion the beef task force has addressed this as we have heard from businessowners wanting to build a facility but we need a trained workforce. She said.
The Agriculture Secretary praised Career Tech for working quickly to make this a reality.
Career Tech has quickly been able to address this, Arthur said.
Once a qualified workforce is in place, training meat inspectors is the next step, Arthur said.
Right now, we may have only enough inspectors to work two days a week and we would love to have enough inspectors to work at least 5 days a week, Arthur said.
Much of the issue of a tight meat processing capacity in Oklahoma is because the state simply lacks enough facilities.
The low number of meat processing plants in Oklahoma really surprised me, Arthur said. She added most of Oklahomaís cattle are processed out of state.
We have a lot of room for expansion, especially the small and medium facilities that would sell locally, she said.
Arthur noted if small and medium plants can expand, this would promote the Oklahoma Certified Beef label pushed by the state legislature.
She added one of the priorities now for the task force is to get public input for determining if they are headed in the right direction.
To hear more of Ronís interview with Sec. Arthur, click on the listen bar below.
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