The New Jersey Ag Department plans to produce a feasibility study in the next nine months on ways to increase custom meat processing in the state.

The study will look at three options — creating one centrally located processing facility, retrofitting an existing processor to meet the standards for USDA inspection, or adding several on-farm processors around the state.

A federal Rural Business Enterprise Grant is funding the study.

USDA-inspected custom meat processing is a key service for direct-marketing livestock farmers, but such businesses have been stymied by high costs and tight labor availability.

The state is asking livestock producers to complete a brief survey to inform its research. The survey is available at bit.ly/livestocksurvey and is only open till Friday, Oct. 18.

For more information, contact the Ag Department at 609-292-5536.