Meat rationing in WWII

I was searching the archives of a local newspaper and spotted an interesting article about something else (as I often do). This is from December 12, 1942.

There was a question and answer column written by the Office of Price Administration about farmers selling their own butchered meat. Posed questions were things like:

“Can I butcher my own animals and sell the meat to local shops?”

“Can I butcher my own meat and keep it and sell the lard?”

“Can I butcher my own meat, keep the good parts and make sausage from the rest and sell it directly or through approved retailers?”

"Can I butcher my own meat and sell some to my own family like I have done for years?

“Can a retailer running short of meat purchase local animals and butcher them for sale? He has not done this before.”

The answer in all cases except one was the same: Not unless you did this practice in 1941, in which case you established a quota and can match the amount you did in the same quarter of 1941. The only exception was for the lard, it was not controlled.

So what in the hell was a farmer supposed to do with his surplus meat? Seems like stuffing yourself while your neighbors eat beets simmered in lard would not have helped things. None of the questions directly asked about giving the meat away, however.


I think “donate to the war effort” or “share with neighbours for free” are the only options given the rules.

It seems to me your source or your interpretation is slightly off. There’s some more detail here, which in part covers the answers you write about.

As far as I interpret this a farmer could still sell the animals to a slaughterhouse that had the necessary licenses and could apply for a license after 1941, but couldn’t just make a decision to switch from whatever to raising cattle.

Based on info from my parents & grandparents: these regulations were intended to prevent a black market in rationed goods. But there was no intention of preventing a farmer producing surpluses; in fact everyone was encouraged to produce more.

But in fact, what happened was the traditional exchange. The beef farmer would make a gift to his neighbor of 10 pounds of beef roast. The neighbor would give him a give of 20 pounds of fresh beets. Just being neighborly, no barter involved (officially). And as long as both farmers produced their quota of beef or beets compared to last year, the local authorities weren’t concerned.