There was a time when many rural communities supported a small meat processing plant, where farmers could get hogs or calves butchered for family and friends, or hunters could get wild game processed. These businesses also rented lockers where customers could store quantities of meat in the days before refrigeration.
In 1965, Iowa had more than 550 small meat processing plants, compared to less than 200 today. Most states have seen similar declines. However, recent consumer interest in locally raised organic and natural meat also is increasing the demand for meat processing facilities. In addition, the draft farm bill contains provisions to encourage interstate sales by state-inspected processing plants.