Demand for local beef is surging, but people who slaughter cattle and slice the beef into steaks say few people want to go into the business.
Operators of small meat plants say even their children don't want to take on the hard, messy work.
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Nationally, there were 1,200 federally inspected livestock slaughterhouses in the U.S. in 1990. By 2010 the number had dropped to 800. State-licensed operations have also declined.
The trend comes as purchases of natural, organic and grass-fed beef are up 20 percent over a two-decade period.
Mike Jessee, who owns Dee-Jays Custom Butchering in Fredericktown, Ohio, says he's swamped with orders.
Lauren Gwin, who coordinates the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, says the demand is prompting new businesses to open, but getting started is costly and difficult.