Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meat CSAs and Buying Clubs

by Nick McCann, NCAT Agriculture Marketing Specialist
Reprinted with permission from PASA

In any farm business, it's important to have multiple marketing outlets in order to minimize risk and maintain a stable income. For an increasing number of livestock producers, a meat community-supported agriculture program (CSA) or buying club has become a viable addition to commodity markets or the sale barn. A meat CSA/buying club sells whole, half or quarter carcasses to a group of individuals in order to:

- Minimize the time it takes to sell meat in volume.

- Sell directly to minimize consumer costs.

- Sell the whole animal, not just the high end cuts.

- How can I start and manage a meat CSA/buying club?
Look to church communities or your own social network where people are already organized and familiar with each other to develop your meat CSA/buying club customer base. Customers are often asked to pay for their CSA/buying club share up front. However, when the upfront cost is too high, it is possible to market smaller portions of the carcass.

When does marketing smaller cuts become too time intensive to both raise and market animals? This cut-off point will be different for every business but needs to be considered carefully.

- How do I get my animals butchered and wrapped?
The local meat locker is often a good place to find out about getting your animals butchered and wrapped. Depending on your area, you may have federally inspected state- inspected or custom-exempt butchering plants nearby. There are three main types of facilities.

- Federally Inspected Plant
You may resell your meat to consumers and enter into interstate commerce.

- State Inspected Plant
You may resell meat to consumers, but not across state lines.

- Custom-Exempt Plant
You may deliver meat to your customers, but for legal reasons your customers must pay the custom plant directly for slaughter and cutting services. So you must sell the animal on the hoof and the buyer must pay the processor for butchering cutting and wrapping.

Where can I find other resources about meat CSAs or buying clubs?
Marketing Meat for Small Producers, by Arion Thiboumery, Iowa State University Extension, and Mike Lorentz, Lorentz Meats.

Alternative Meat Marketing Strategies, by Lauren Gwin OSU/Niche Meat Processing Assistance Network.

Local Harvest is an extensive national website of direct marketing that makes it easy for farmers and consumers to find each other.

CSA Center directory at Wilson College.

No comments:

Post a Comment