Flower Hill Institute, Leather & Hide Council of America Partner to Cut Hide Waste and Support Small Meat Processors

Initiative will expand efforts to increase the utilization of hides from smaller meat processing facilities for the leather industry.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalized between the Leather and Hide Council of America (L&HCA), and the New Mexico-based Flower Hill Institute will expand efforts to increase the utilization of hides from smaller meat processing facilities for the leather industry.

Earlier this year, the USDA announced a commitment of $1 billion in loans, grants, and other resources to create a more resilient, diverse, and equitable meat and poultry processing system in the United States. As a part of the commitment, USDA established a network of organizations to provide technical assistance to ranchers and farmers seeking to access those resources. Flower Hill Institute, an Indigenous-led nonprofit organization, entered into a cooperative agreement with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to coordinate the technical assistance network.

Members of the Flower Hill staff and other organizations within the network have been working with L&HCA for the past several months to find markets for hides collected from smaller meat processors.

Roger Fragua, executive director of the Flower Hill Institute, explained that the onward sale of hides will not only remove hides from landfill and bring one of man's original upcycled materials to market but also provide important increased revenue for smaller meat processing enterprises.

“Meat processing businesses operate on tight margins. Large processors capture value from every part of the animal, including hides. Unfortunately, smaller processors often have to pay to have hides, and other byproducts, hauled away,” Fragua said.

“Sadly, nearly five million hides are put into landfills or otherwise destroyed each year. We have been working with the Leather & Hide Council to address this and are pleased to formalize our partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding,” he added.

L&HCA President Steve Sothmann added, “Many leather manufacturers are seeing strong increases in demand for products that have verified attributes, such as being sourced from tribal ranchers, or from ranchers engaged in regenerative agriculture. Smaller processors are handling many of these types of hides, so we want to help them capture that value and, at the same time, reduce waste.”

Through the MOU, the two organizations will work together:
  • To identify the economic and logistical barriers inhibiting the sourcing of hides and leather from smaller meat processing enterprises;
  • To collaborate on developing new supply chain models to collect hides from these facilities, and to reduce the number of hides sent to landfills or otherwise destroyed each year;
  • To collaborate on developing the means to implement traceability of hides and leather, and to promote leather products with value-added attributes based upon the livestock production practices and animal species;
  • To equip Flower Hill Institute with information about the practices and processes utilized within the hide and leather industries; and
  • To communicate with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, NIFA, and Rural Development about resources and programs that can strengthen the ability of smaller processing facilities to collect and market hides;
  • To collaborate on other programs and services that can increase the demand for hides and leather from smaller processing facilities.
For more information, visit Flower Hill Institute, L&HCA or the MPPTA Program.