As if 20 years behind the meat counter didn’t make Tim Brueggen a master of his craft already, the owner of Falls Meat Service in Pigeon Falls is one of only 89 meat processors who holds a Master Meat Crafter accreditation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This program, highly regarded among meat processors nationwide, offers intensive training intended to advance even the industry’s most renowned, award-winning meat processors. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Meat Science Program, UW-Extension and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborate to offer the two-year certification program, right here in Wisconsin.
“The Master Meat Crafter program gives you an idea of what other people do and gives you new ideas of how to improve your own production and make different products,” says Brueggen, whose business specializes in custom processing for pork, beef and wild game, retail meats and sausages, and wholesale meats. “I think the certification is a big value, because it makes our state more progressive. It gives Wisconsin a leg up. We have close resources. We have other plants that partake in these programs, which makes the whole industry better.”
Brueggen started working at Falls Meat Service at age 15. He was employed there part time through college and returned to the meat processing business after college and deployments in the National Guard. Brueggen held multiple management roles, then was a part owner and eventually bought the entire business in 2017 when the co-owner retired.
The Master Meat Crafter Class
The Master Meat Crafter class accepts only experienced meat processors like Brueggen from anywhere in the United States and some nearby foreign countries. For the length of the two-year program, Brueggen made lasting connections with counterparts from New York, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Canada and Illinois. The program costs $7,500 and requires six multiday courses, a research project, homework assignments and a mentorship to attain accreditation. The next class begins in March 2019, says Jeff Swenson, livestock and meats specialist with DATCP.
“It’s the only program of its kind in the nation. Really we have found a lot of value to the industry, based on the people who have gone through the program and become leaders within the industry,” Swenson says. “We’ve seen them make changes to affect the bottom line of their facilities, as well. This Master Meat Crafter program here in Wisconsin highlights the meat processors we have in the state, the excellent job that we do, takes it to the next level and announces it to the world.”