This is a noteworthy story from a remote and narrow alpine valley in the High Tauern mountains of Austria. The story won’t feature in international news, but for the local farmers and consumers of the Villgraten Valley in East Tyrol, it is big news. A group of farmers launched an initative to build their own slaughterhouse and did so with the express purpose of keeping meat local and avoiding the dictates of the wholesale companies.
So-called “extensive farming” and a unique variety of cattle breeds are typical of the high alpine regions and their small farms and family businesses. The farmers of Villgratental in Austria are proud of their old breeds and rare species of grazing livestock. However, these types of cattle are not necessarily in demand by wholesalers, who not only build their large and automated slaughter facilities for mass production but design them to cull standard-size animals.
The Austrian farmers built their local and collaboratively managed slaughterhouse to allow them to slaughter their own livestock and sell meat and products locally. Currently, ten farms have partnered in the venture, which has the support of the mayors and populations of the small villages in the Villgraten Valley.
The direct marketing profits will benefit the farmers rather than be siphoned off by industrial-style meat producers. In addition, consumers will be able to buy fresh meat products in their own neighborhood and be assured that their food is independent of unpredictable supply chains. Some of the greatest benefits may be for the animals themselves: rather than endure the lengthy and stressful transport to major slaughtering factories, these cattle and small livestock will die stress-free and with a lot more dignity.
We applaud the Tyrolian farmers.