Registration open for 3rd Carolina Meat Conference, Dec. 9-10

Registration is now open for NC Choices’ Carolina Meat Conference in Winston-Salem Dec. 9-10. The conference is in its third year of innovative educational programming and networking opportunities for niche meat supply chain partners including farmers, processors, chefs, buyers and industry support businesses.

The Carolina Meat Conference, at the Benton Convention Center in Winston Salem, is a gathering of professionals from all sectors of the local and niche meat industry for two days of panel discussions, presentations, workshops, butchery demonstrations, a trade show, meals featuring local meats and a Monday night social, dinner and keynote address. Registration and lodging information is available on the conference website:

Conference topics include livestock production, pasture management, meat processing, innovative marketing and business models and the latest updates on how new regulations will affect small food businesses.

This year’s keynote speaker is Anya Fernald, the co-founder and CEO of Belcampo Meat Co., a group of innovative agricultural companies in California, Belize and Uruguay that strives to make “good food the old fashioned way” on an unprecedented scale. Belcampo is an integrated company which owns a 10,000-acre ranch, a grain farm, a slaughterhouse, a growing number of retail butcher shops and a restaurant. Belcampo will offer its business model as a financial case-study.

“People in the food world think that if you start talking about money, it’s like saying you don’t care,” Fernald told Food and Wine magazine. “Some people — I call them “broke-avores” — are so local, they’re broke. I’m not interested in doing small, perfect things.” As the local and niche meat industry grows, Fernald says companies that can achieve an appropriate scale will play a pivotal role in addressing some foundational issues of economies of scale in local meat.

“The most pressing question on everyone’s mind is how to make local meat profitable for small production and processing businesses that face all the challenges of being small. We’re looking forward to Anya’s perspective on business models that engage in the food system in more aggressive and profitable ways,” says Casey McKissick, NC Choices director

The 2012 Carolina Meat Conference sold out at maximum capacity with 380 participants, most of whom were farmers or prospective farmers. With close to 450 expected in attendance, this year’s Carolina Meat Conference will be held in a larger location to better accommodate attendees, hands-on instruction and demonstrations and more.

The conference has received national attention for its program content and role in encouraging rural economic development in North Carolina and beyond. As a result, North Carolina’s farmers, processors, chefs and food entrepreneurs are known among the most innovative in the country. NC Choices’ mission is to advance the local and niche meat sector by offering excellent educational programming and networking opportunities to meat producers, processors, food professionals, buyers and the support industry.

NC Choices is an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, is a partnership of North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  CEFS’s mission is to develop and promote food and farming systems that protect the environment, strengthen local communities, and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond.

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