MILWAUKEE – Wisconsin-based meat processors can now get help from the newly created Specialty Meat Development Center, which was formed to assist artisan sausage and cured meat makers operating within the state with growing their businesses, according to The Business Journal of Milwaukee.

Formed through a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the state’s meat-processing industry, the non-profit center is intended to support the state’s specialty meat processors in business development, product development, labeling and packaging, market development and food safety and quality. Rod Nilsestuen, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the center will help find new markets, develop new cured and specialty meat products and provide training and market development support to meat processors.

According to state officials, Wisconsin has more state-inspected meat facilities than any other state – 289 official state-inspected meat-processing facilities and 65 slaughter plants. These facilities are estimated to produce more than 77 million lbs. of meat and meat products featuring the state-inspected stamp. State sources said the total impact of the state’s meat industry to the Wisconsin economy is $12.3 billion and the industry accounts for more than 19,400 jobs in the state. Any meat-processing facility in the state is eligible to apply for assistance from the center.

This spring, the new center is also expected to launch a two-year master meat crafter training program that is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.