Finding local beef that meets cafeteria budgets is the biggest challenge.
The idea of slaughtering New England-raised cattle and selling the beef locally is based more on idealism than economic reality, says a report commissioned by the six states' agriculture departments.
The study was aimed at figuring out if the local foods movement, which has made inroads in getting more schools, hospitals and other institutions to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, could be extended to beef. A big part of developing that market is getting those institutions to buy locally, and many are hesitant to pay a premium for local beef.
The New England Beef to Institution Marketing Study says distributors and food service companies will not spend money on locally processed beef until producers invest time and energy to develop the markets and until demand rises.