The state’s Artisanal Butchery Task Force is recommending the creation of a one-year artisanal butchery certificate program at the state’s community colleges. The task force was created during the 2021 legislative session to explore the feasibility of creating an artisanal butchery program at a community college or regent institution to address workforce challenges at the state’s meat lockers. The task force, whose members come from state industry groups, meat lockers, state government and community colleges, was asked to consider several aspects of a potential program, including staffing and equipment requirements, potential enrollment numbers, employment outlook, apprenticeship and internship opportunities, program costs, and regulatory and legal requirements. Following three meetings last fall and receiving input from stakeholders, the task force issued its recommendation last week to state lawmakers that a one-year artisanal butchery certificate program be offered through the state’s community college system. The program would include a combination of classroom education and firsthand, work-based learning opportunities provided directly by local meat lockers and processors. “Like many businesses, lockers and community meat processors are facing significant workforce shortages which have only been compounded since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “This labor shortage comes at a time when meat processors are experiencing increased demand for the high-quality products and services they offer at a time when supply chains are strained.”