NC Choices receives Rural Center grant

Media Contact: Casey McKissick,

NC Choices, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), has received a $325,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. The funds will be used over two years to provide small-scale, commercial meat processors across the state with assistance, including business development and technical training. The project is expected to help meat processors grow their businesses, create jobs and advance the niche meat industry in the state.

Niche meats – pasture-raised, grass-fed, local, organic – are the fastest growing sector of the meat industry. The number of farmers in North Carolina who are raising and selling meats to local markets continues to rise and now includes more than 550 registered farmer meat handlers. Meat producers and buyers both rely on independent, inspected meat processors to get their products to market.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to help independent processors appropriately scale their businesses. Demand for their services is exploding. Support from the Rural Center will allow us to work one-on-one with interested processors and help them grow sustainably,” says Casey McKissick, NC Choices coordinator

NC Choices promotes sustainable food systems through the advancement of the local, niche and pasture-based meat supply chain in North Carolina with programming focused on meat production, processing and marketing. Earlier this week, NC Choices hosted a workshop in Chatham County on “Whole Animal Butchery for Chefs and Farmers.” For more information see and

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems is a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CEFS develops and promotes food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond. For more information, see

The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes.

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