If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma or if you’ve seen Food Inc., you may remember the scene where farmers set up an ad hoc abattoir set up on their property. They site a number of reasons for slaughtering the animals they raise, but now it looks like one of the biggest benefits of the practice is time saved. (There are regulatory hurdles to clear, of course.)

The New York Times reports on the rise of small farms and the shortage of slaughterhouses.

In what could be a major setback for America’s local-food movement, championed by so-called locavores, independent farmers around the country say they are forced to make slaughter appointments before animals are born and to drive hundreds of miles to facilities, adding to their costs and causing stress to livestock.

As a result, they are scaling back on plans to expand their farms because local processors cannot handle any more animals.

“It’s pretty clear there needs to be attention paid to this,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview. “Particularly in the Northeast, where there is indeed a backlog and lengthy wait for slaughter facilities.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the number of slaughterhouses nationwide declined to 809 in 2008 from 1,211 in 1992, while the number of small farmers has increased by 108,000 in the past five years.

Do you raise livestock? Where do you take them at the end? Does this make you want to be a vegetarian?