- Last Updated on 08:16 AM 12/12/12
- BY The Gazette-Virginian
Denise Hudson of Hudson Heritage Farms, located in Elmo, attended the annual North Carolina Meat Conference recently along with more than 300 attendees.
They were farmers, chefs, wholesalers, experts in meat production, slaughter facilities and processors, trade associations and special guest Dr. Temple Grandin. The attendees came together to discuss, plan for and learn about the expanding status of the meat markets in the United States and Piedmont area.
Specialty workshops were held on how farmers can successfully expand into direct marketing of their meat product, how to prepare and cut meats, the expanding role of women in the meat business, the challenges of production and marketing and the improvement in meat quality through better handling of livestock.
The national movement to eat locally and buy directly from farmers continues to grow. National projections indicate consumers will continue to want to know the face of their agricultural product. There has been growth in the niche meat markets, and with the expansion of the population, these markets will likely continue to experience growth in the coming years.
More chefs of popular restaurants are seeking to work with local producers and put fresh locally produced products on their menus, Hudson said. As consumer demand for local and niche meats continues to increase, the understanding and motivations of the customer is ever more important for farmers.
The North Carolina Meat Conference is organized by NC Choices, a leader in working with farmers on production, slaughter and marketing of local meat products.
Hudson Heritage Farms is among the farms producing locally grown products and selling directly to consumers through local farmers markets, stores and restaurants. Since Virginia does not currently have an organization like NC Choices, Hudson Heritage Farms has attended and benefited from the neighboring state’s educational opportunities.
Elmo farm owner Denise Hudson said she believes farmers in Halifax County are in a good position to develop markets for the quality products that are being produced locally.