Partnership to cut hide waste and support small meat processors

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalized between the Leather and Hide Council of America (L&HCA), and the New Mexico-based Flower Hill Institute will expand efforts to increase the utilization of hides from smaller meat processing facilities for the leather industry.

Posted on Feb 21 ,00:20

Partnership to cut hide waste and support small meat processors

Earlier this year, the USDA announced a commitment of $1 billion in loans, grants, and other resources to create a more resilient, diverse, and equitable meat and poultry processing system in the United States. As a part of the commitment, USDA established a network of organizations to provide technical assistance to ranchers and farmers seeking to access those resources. Flower Hill Institute, an Indigenous-led nonprofit organization, entered into a cooperative agreement with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to coordinate the technical assistance network.

Members of the Flower Hill staff and other organizations within the network have been working with L&HCA for the past several months to find markets for hides collected from smaller meat processors.

Roger Fragua, executive director of the Flower Hill Institute, explained that the onward sale of hides will not only remove hides from landfill and bring one of man's original upcycled materials to market but also provide important increased revenue for smaller meat processing enterprises.

"Meat processing businesses operate on tight margins. Large processors capture value from every part of the animal, including hides. Unfortunately, smaller processors often have to pay to have hides, and other byproducts, hauled away," Fragua said.

"Sadly, nearly five million hides are put into landfills or otherwise destroyed each year. We have been working with the Leather & Hide Council to address this and are pleased to formalize our partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding," he added.

L&HCA President Steve Sothmann added, "Many leather manufacturers are seeing strong increases in demand for products that have verified attributes, such as being sourced from tribal ranchers, or from ranchers engaged in regenerative agriculture. Smaller processors are handling many of these types of hides, so we want to help them capture that value and, at the same time, reduce waste."

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