Conference to help livestock producers garner more value by marketing own meat

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 11, 2005 – Most livestock producers in Virginia ship their animals out of state to be processed and sold. A growing number, however, are considering marketing their own meat on the farm to garner more value from their products.

“To remain competitive, Virginia producers need to get every dollar of value from each animal. Maintaining ownership of those animals from production through retail sales is one way they can increase revenues,” said Jim Riddell, Virginia Cooperative Extension’s associate director for agriculture and natural resource programs.

A seminar for those interested in marketing their own meat products has been planned for May 4 at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. The seminar is a joint project of Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the U.S.D.A. Risk Management Agency.

“This is a comprehensive program for individuals or groups who are interested in on-farm meat production enterprises,” said Riddell.

Spencer Neale of the Virginia Farm Bureau will lead a session on “Current Industry Trends,” and Kathleen Harris, from Currytown Farm in Sprakers, N.Y., will discuss her experiences in “Starting and Maintaining a Niche Meat Business.”

Barry Jones of the Virginia Department of Agriculture will discuss “Regulations for Harvesting, Processing, Labeling Meat,” followed by a session on “Liability Issues for Producers” by Jesse Richardson, associate professor of public and international affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech.

Scott Greiner, Extension beef and sheep specialist at Virginia Tech, will tell producers how to “Describe Your Product to the Customer: A Carcass Guide for Yields, Dressing percentage, Flesh Condition, & Muscling.”

In the afternoon session, Gary Hornbaker from Loudoun County’s economic development office will discuss “Customers: Who, Where, and What” followed by Harris, the New York producer, on “Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business.” Karl Keller, from Mount Air Farm in White Hall, Va., will share his experiences in marketing his own products in central Virginia.

Chef George Huger from the Southern Inn Restaurant in Lexington, Va. and Stephanie Anderegg-Maloy, market master for the Charlottesville City Market, will discuss “Products for the Retail Sector.”

For additional information or to register contact Melissa Ball at the Virginia Department of Agriculture, (804) 786-5448 or There is a $15 fee for the workshop.