Historically, the rules governing red meat food safety in the U.S. were driven as much by global trade and industry rationalization as by food safety. Contemporary and historical documents, statutes, and regulations; a survey of producer and farmers’ market representatives; and key informant interviews show that these rules, and their implementation, have affected the current development of niche marketing opportunities. Three significant issues arise from this research: a) the elimination of the state meat inspections limits producer access to slaughter; b) the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) rule limits producer access to processing; and c) uncertainty at the local level limits producer access to direct markets. We conclude that the accumulated rules affect producers’ quality of life; and they raise several issues about the relationship between sustainability and policy including barrier mitigation, balancing competing qualities, and the effects of the broader policy context.

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