In this episode, Lindsey from Blondie’s Butcher Shop provides valuable insights into the world of custom exempt meat processing. Discover what custom exempt processing means, its unique role in Minnesota, and how it benefits both farmers and consumers. Lindsey also addresses common misconceptions and offers practical tips for those interested in purchasing quality meat.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What custom exempt processing entails and its significance in Minnesota’s meat industry.
  • Why customers have ownership of the animal before slaughter and how this impacts their meat purchasing experience.
  • How to work with a local butcher shop to customize your meat cuts and overcome the confusion surrounding meat names.


Lindsey: Hey everybody, it’s Lindsey with Blondie’s Butcher Shop. We are here again today to talk a little bit more about… Custom Exempt Meet Processing, what it means, and what it means for you as the customer. You good with that? So when we talk about custom exempt processing, especially primarily in the state of Minnesota, it’s different for every state. In Minnesota, there are three tiers primarily that you can be licensed under. Custom exempt equal to, or you can be federally inspected. So most of us small town, main street butcher shops like mine here at Wannamingo. to be a custom exempt process places and we primarily work for the farmer. Which means the farmer has the opportunity to sell their beef in eight quarters half holes before it gets here. So the customer actually has ownership of the animal prior to it being slaughtered. So I primarily work for the farmer and help them to direct market their cattle to you, the consumer.

So we dive a little bit more into custom exempt processing. And when we talk about it, we talk about people ordering eights, quarters, halves, or whole’s of beef and taking it home. to share with their family and that is it. So we actually label this meat as not for sale. So it cannot go to farmer’s markets and be resold. It cannot go to a restaurant and be sold. I can’t harvest a beef here and sell it to the bar and grill across my street. All of those things need to be equal to inspected or federally inspected. We offer just a really, really great opportunity for customers to come in and tell us exactly how they want their beef cut. Specifically, what cuts do they want, what cuts don’t they want, what do they want ground. They’re getting the biggest bang for their buck to the customer to purchase directly from the farmer and to purchase in bulk.

So some common misconceptions when it comes to custom slaughter and purchasing from the farmer. If you’ve heard some horror stories or other stories of bad experiences working with specific farmers, you can always call your local butcher shop and they can connect you with a really high quality, great farmer. to give you a really good product at the end of the day. There’s a lot of resources, especially on social media, for finding quarters, halves, and wholes. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions about that, but I always highly recommend going for your local butcher to get advice on what would be the best cut of beef or best hog for what you’re looking for. And remember that they’re gonna be able to find you organic or grass fed. Whatever it is you feed your family in form of animal protein, we’re here to help and to fill that void.

So another misconception that we find really common is people really don’t understand the animal coming in live weight versus the animal hanging on a rail, which we call hanging weight versus the weight that you’re going to take home. So make sure you stay tuned. We’re going to break beef and pigs down and show you what you’re taking home, what you’re not taking home and why you’re not taking it home and what it’s going to. So weights are always a little finicky when you’re trying to do your math, but we will definitely walk through. that entire process to make it simple and really understandable for you and why you’re getting more bang for your buck to buy bulk.

So to kind of walk you through a little bit of the process of how Custom Exempt works when you partner with a farmer or you partner with us and we partner you with a farmer, it’s pretty simple. We give you the straight up price that the farmer’s asking for right off the bat. And then we give you our price of what our per pound processing charge is here. And if you’re looking to do anything special with your animal other than just cut some steaks, if you wanted to get into beef sticks, summer sausage, hot dogs, you name it. there is an extra processing charge for that and we can cover all of that in our conversation. So how we work is we really, really like the customer to call us, we walk you through one-on-one on the phone or in person, a cutting order, discuss everything, all the cuts, answer all your questions.
So there’s a lot of confusion with customers in cuts being the exact same piece of meat, but having three to four different names. So that can be really, really confusing sometimes. I don’t know why that happens, but it does. So we can take that breakdown and get you what we can get you versus what maybe we might not be able to cut you for the animal you’re eating.

So a lot of times we’ve had customers have difficult or not great experiences, whether it’s been with another butcher, maybe it’s been with a farmer and you bought through them. We understand that, we get that. We like to take into consideration what your problem was, what happened. and try to fix it and maybe explain how we might do things a little different or we would handle your situation differently to get you and your family exactly what you’re looking for an end product.

So when we talk about custom exempt versus the other licensures of inspection for meat in the state of Minnesota primarily, when we talk about custom exempt, we are not a daily inspecting facility. So a lot of responsibility falls on the butcher to make proper decision making on animals that come in here on the hoof versus hanging on the hook in here and what their carcasses look like. whether it’s an animal that might have had an injury coming in that could be damaged, an animal that was overstressed, that is not going to make a really great carcass, maybe a carcass that would be better hamburger than it would be steaks. When we really get into that kind of thing, that weight really, really falls on the butcher to independently make those decisions. And then we assess and converse with the state if we need to. Otherwise, it is primarily our responsibility to turn the best product over to you guys without state inspectors. inspectors here watching us making those decisions. So that is one thing. We are inspected. Usually we’re inspected quarterly and managed from there. To be a custom exempt butcher, you have to have a really great relationship with the state to stay in business. So know that most butchers that are custom exempt are very much trusted by the state to do the best job that we possibly can do. And I would say all of us have been at it for quite a few years to make the best decisions possible. Another comment that we get a lot with farmers is, you know, how do you know if our meat is good or the customer asking are you sure I’m not getting a damaged animal, etc. In future episodes we’ll talk about damaged animals, injured animals, and how that sarcophagus, why we don’t allow certain things to enter the food supply chain through us. I will call farmers if I think it’s something we might be able to salvage and then I get it here and it looks much different. The damage was a lot worse under the hide than what we originally thought. We’re very, very protective of what we put out because the farmer wants that protection as well. They don’t want turning a bad product over to their customer that they’ve not only worked really, really hard for, but they’ve worked really, really hard on this animal as well to get you the best product.

So to follow up and end this with you guys, here’s some quick tips just to recap what we’ve talked about. If you are interested in purchasing a really great animal to add to your freezer for the year, make sure you’re gonna find a quality butcher. Don’t be afraid to ask around, call butcher shops, ask questions. If you do have a farmer that you’re working with or wanna work with, or you don’t have one, reach out. Two, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are no dumb questions. It can be a little overwhelming to purchase a quarter or a half a beef for that matter. Just make sure you ask. And as far as the financial tips, make sure you ask from start to finish what the breakdown is so there are no surprises at the end. That’s all I have for you. We’ll talk to you guys again soon.

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