NC Choices to host first Carolina Meat Conference, March 25-27

Date posted: February 4, 2011

Media Contact: Casey McKissick, NC Choices coordinator, 828.216.2966 or casey@ncchoices.com

In response to the rising demand for locally-raised meats, NC Choices will host a unique statewide conference March 25-27 in Concord. The event is designed to bring together farmers, butchers, chefs, buyers and local meat enthusiasts.

North Carolina is now home to nearly 500 farmers who sell their meat and poultry through local channels, representing a nearly four-fold increase in such sales over the past three years.

“Our goal is to help livestock farmers, butchers, and meat buyers better understand each others’ businesses and work together to expand processing and marketing opportunities throughout the state,” said Casey McKissick, NC Choices coordinator.

In collaboration with The Butchers’ Guild, NC Choices is offering tailored, hands-on butchery workshops for chefs, commercial meat processors, farmers and consumers. “As a farmer producing and marketing meat to local markets, I’ve come to understand that sustaining the supply of local meat has a lot to do with the quality and reliability of butchering and meat processing. It’s the key to adding value, making money, and a good eating experience,” says Jamie Ager, co-owner of Hickory Nut Gap Meats in Buncombe County.

The conference will give everyone – from veterans to home chefs — a chance to improve their butchery skills. In addition, participants will explore a wide range of issues and trends, including innovative marketing alliances, emerging regulatory issues, improved animal handling and pasture management techniques, and ethical issues in sourcing and production.

“As a small-scale processor, I value the chance to get better connected with others in the local meat supply chain around the state. And my staff is looking forward to the different training opportunities,” said Richard Huettman, co-owner of Acre Station Meat Farm in Beaufort County.

Held at the Cabarrus County Arena & Event Center, the conference promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience with no shortage of good local foods. Conference sponsors include: Cabarrus County, Carolina Farm Credit, Weaver Street Market, N.C. Cooperative Extension, The Butcher’s Guild, N.C. Farm Bureau, N.C. SARE, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, N.C. Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council, N.C. Cattlemen’s Association, Leading Green Distributing, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

NC Choices and the Carolina Meat Conference are programs of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The center promotes education, research and extension efforts in sustainable agriculture and fosters the development of local food economies.

Friends of CEFS is a membership organization for those who share our commitment to a sustainable future for agriculture. Donations to Friends of CEFS are tax-deductable and held in the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization. Carolina Meat Conference sponsorships are eligible for tax-deductions.

For further information visit www.carolinameatconference.com or call Casey McKissick at 828.216.2966.

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