USDA and WSDA are the two ways in which the government regulates the slaughtering of animals. We utilize both to serve different purposes: WSDA for bulk orders and USDA for farmer's markets and customers who don't wish to order bulk.
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 and at farmers markets. For USDA processing, the animals must be transported to a USDA facility in a trailer. It's more expensive for us and more stressful for the animals, but we do our best to curtail the stress by delivering our animals to the facility a day prior to slaughter to allow them time to calm down and adjust to the new environment. We also take care in selecting USDA facilities that observe AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) methods of dispatchment that are as humane as possible.
WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) is an exemption from the USDA program that accommodates small farms. One of the key requirements for WSDA is that the meat must be “sold” prior to the kill. The deposit, which we collect when you place your bulk order, satisfies this requirement; hence, all of our bulk orders are WSDA. 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. This is the most viable means for all involved, as it is done locally and with minimal discomfort to the animals.