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Reams in first class of meat program

Hudson's Rick Reams, owner of RJ's Meats & Groceries in Hudson, was a recent Master Meat Crafter graduates. He was a member of the first class from the Master Meat Crafter Training Program. Reams is third from the left in the back row. Submitted photo.

Owner of RJ's Meats & Groceries among 17 honored in the Master Meat Crafter Training Program

Wisconsin has graduated its first class from the Master Meat Crafter Training Program recently in Madison and Richard Reams of RJ's Meats & Groceries in Hudson was among the 17 honorees.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced that 17 of the state's meat processors have completed this unique, one-of-a-kind program and have the distinction of being a Master Meat Crafter.

"These meat processors are breaking ground as the very first class of Master Meat Crafters," said DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel. "The graduates have taken the next step, moving their interest into action, to create high-quality products that will increase consumer interest in specialty meats."

The goals of the Master Meat Crafter Training Program are to: provide participants with in-depth and comprehensive knowledge about meat science and processing principles, provide development opportunities for future meat industry leaders, and help ensure the nation's meat industry remains strong and viable for years to come. To finish the program, the 17 graduates needed to complete four program elements including workshops, targeted homework assignments, a mentorship program, and a plant project. The program took two years to complete.

Reams project included the impact starter culture plays on flavor profile in Italian salami with wine.

The graduates now have the accreditation of being a Master Meat Crafter signifying their skill set and understanding of meat science and processing. A seal of designation will now be used on products produced by the program graduates signaling their status as a Master Meat Crafter.

The Wisconsin meat industry has a $12.3 billion economic impact on the state and provides 88,000 jobs. The state is home to 289 state-inspected meat plants, more than any other state, and over 120 federally-inspected meat facilities.

The Master Meat Crafter Training Program was developed in conjunction with the Specialty Meat Development Center of Wisconsin. It was supported by DATCP, University of Wisconsin Meat Science Extension, University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors.

To find these Master Meat Crafters and other specialty meat processors, use the interactive Specialty Meats Map at