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MATC meat cutting program sees record enrollment thanks to interest in local foods
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MATC meat cutting program sees record enrollment thanks to interest in local foods

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Four years ago, in an effort to support Madison’s farm-to-table movement, Paul Short launched an artisanal butchering program at Madison Area Technical College.

At first he struggled to fill the spots, but after streamlining the curriculum, he is now running at full capacity, which Short attributes in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spurred interest in local food and cooking at home.

“There’s a strong push toward self-sufficiency and learning some of the stuff that our grandparents used to do,” Short said. “People were wanting to buy proteins off the farm.”

The goal of the program is to teach students how to break down an animal and prepare them for entry-level work in butcher shops and meat lockers.

Over the past decade roughly a quarter of Wisconsin’s inspected processing plants have closed, in part because of the difficulty finding skilled workers. That has created a bottleneck for farmers who want to sell their meat to local buyers.

Short has students who drive two hours to attend the bi-weekly classes “from all walks of life” — including some farmers looking to start their own meat lockers.

“If we can say there’s anything good about COVID ... at least people are starting to re-look at their food sources ... and better yet, help farmers at the same time.”

“If we can say there’s anything good about COVID ... at least people are starting to re-look at their food sources ... and better yet, help farmers at the same time.” Paul Short, Madison Area Technical College

“If we can say there’s anything good about COVID ... at least people are starting to re-look at their food sources ... and better yet, help farmers at the same time.”

Paul Short, Madison Area Technical College

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