USDA and WSDA are the two ways in which the government regulates the slaughtering and butchering of animals. We utilize both to serve different purposes: WSDA for pre-sold bulk orders and USDA for farmers markets, out of state orders and customers who don't wish to order in bulk. Read on to learn the differences between the two.
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) requires that government employed inspectors oversee the process of unloading, killing, cutting and wrapping of all animals being processed. Said processing must be done at a USDA certified facility. Once packaged, USDA cuts can be sold to individuals, restaurants, stores, customers who reside across state lines, and at farmers markets. For USDA processing, the animals are typically transported to a USDA facility in a trailer.
While most of us have seen searing images of factory butchering facilities where the animals get hoisted onto a conveyor belt or hung from a hind leg, the facilities we use are NOT that. They are relatively small “mom and pop” shops, and we take care in selecting USDA facilities that are certified AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) and observe the organization’s requirements for humane dispatchment.
WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) is an exemption that saves small ranches from the more costly USDA requirements. WSDA slaughter takes place onsite where the animal has grown up, which makes for a less stressful experience for the animal. The meat is then taken to our local butcher shop for aging, cutting, wrapping and freezing. Our WSDA facility is also certified by AWA (Animal Welfare Approved).
WSDA orders are not allowed to be shipped or distributed outside Washington State. Another key requirement for WSDA is that the animal must be sold to a customer prior to the kill, which is why we use this method for bulk orders (whole, half, quarter, eighth). The deposit, which we collect when you place your bulk order, satisfies this requirement.