WOMEN WORKING IN THE MEAT BUSINESS
Check Back to Learn About Future Women in Meat Workshops!
Join us for what the New York Times, NPR, and National Farm Credit have recognized as one of the nation’s leading events for women in the meat industry and as one of “the top leadership programs changing rural communities and agriculture for the better."
What is Women Working in the Meat Business?
NC Choices’ Women Working in the Meat Business brings together women farmers, processors, and professionals from across the country who raise, butcher, prepare, and/or market pasture raised meat. In a focused, hands-on setting, women convene in North Carolina for over two days of training, from on-farm management to butchery, by the nation’s top professionals. Courses are designed to help women tackle real and perceived barriers in their career by offering educational, technical, and business planning assistance while also providing opportunities to build and expand professional networks.
This year, we’re doubling the size of the conference to better accommodate the growing demand. With training that spans from live animal handling led by NCSU’s Amazing Grazing, to hands-on butchery led by 3rd generation Master Butcher, Kari Underly, to in depth whole animal pricing and business know-how; NC Choices’ Women Working in the Meat Business makes for a not-so-typical “classroom” workshop.
NC Choices, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, promotes sustainable food systems through the advancement of the local, niche and pasture-based meat supply chain in North Carolina. NC Choices provides information, technical assistance, educational programming and networking opportunities for farmers, extension agents, meat processors, buyers, distributors and consumers.
What People Had to Say
A Growing Movement...
Women are the cutting edge of the local meat movement. While chefs, butchers, and farmers remain male-led professions ((male ranchers account for 97% of all US livestock sales (2012 census)), women are taking the stage.
In response to the growing local food movement, NC farms selling local meat have doubled over the past 5 years with 32% involving a female operator (NCC 2016 survey); twice that of the national average. Women attendance at the country’s largest local meat event increased by over 20% since 2011. Plus, the greater Raleigh area has the highest percentage of farms selling meat statewide, positively correlating with the food-centric urban markets.
However, women are among the 49% of meat/livestock farmers that struggle to achieve profitability. Challenges include proficiency and confidence in communication relating to pricing, processing, and business decisions to gain credibility and access markets. Additionally, women often lack the professional networks that accelerate learning in a supportive environment.
In 2013, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ NC Choices (NCC), a Raleigh-based program that provides educational programming to advance local, pasture-based meats, held the first-ever Women Working in the Meat Business (WWMB) seminar. The goal was to empower women to tackle barriers in their career by offering technical and business planning while expanding peer-to-peer professional networks. Female chefs, farmers, butchers, and processors from as far away as Nova Scotia ranging from 17-72 years old, attended this sold-out program which soon gained national recognition.
This fall, NCC is doubling the WWMB size to offer training to a broader network of women advancing local meat. WWMB graduates are the leaders re-imagining our food system by raising animals on pasture, opening local meat businesses, and supporting the NCC’s mission of advancing sustainable food and farming systems throughout NC.