New co-op aims to expand processing, create SC beef product | Agriculture

Special to The T&D

A group of South Carolina cattle farmers has formed a cooperative association with the goals of increasing beef-processing capacity in South Carolina and jointly creating a South Carolina-branded beef product.

The SC Beef Marketing Cooperative was formed with the assistance of the South Carolina Center for Cooperative and Enterprise Development, a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, Clemson University Cooperative Extension, the South Carolina State Small Business Development Center and Matson Consulting.

South Carolina’s meat-processing facilities – all of which are small in scale – are unable to keep up with South Carolina beef producers’ processing needs. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed those weaknesses, with local facilities experiencing long backlogs at the same time consumers were seeking more local meat.

Steven Richards, director of the SC Center for Cooperative and Enterprise Development, completed a study last year suggesting that a $3 million investment in six existing facilities could expand in-state processing capacity by 50 percent and create 50 new jobs.

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“Processing capacity continues to be the most critical bottleneck to expanding the local meat supply. The second most important issue is to expand market outlets for local meat: more retail buying points and more offerings in grocery stores and restaurants. This cooperative association aims to work on both issues simultaneously,” Richards said.

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Creating a co-op gives the group a leg up in applying for grants, including the US Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Producer Grant for which they have already applied. If awarded the grant, they plan to commission a feasibility study on expanding small beef processing facilities around the state to improve capacity.

Members of the SC Beef Marketing Cooperative Executive Board are:

  • Will Boozer – Will and his family run a cow-calf operation located in the middle part of the state that focuses on top Brangus bloodlines. His farm provides beef for local families through a local custom-exempt processor and markets cattle to a local backgrounder that also provides beef for South Carolina consumers.
  • Hudson Johnson – Hudson has a farm in the Upstate where he raises Akaushi cattle, a red breed from Japan that rivals the more common black Wagyu breed known for its exceptional marbling.
  • Meghan Ketterman – Meghan and her husband run a small herd of Registered Angus and black baldies in the mountains of South Carolina. She provides beef to local families as well as several popular restaurants that are favorites with tourists in the area. When she’s not on the farm, she serves on her local school board.
  • Jenny Landreth – Jenny and her husband’s farm is located in the Piedmont Region, where she focuses on bettering the genetics in beef herds across South Carolina. Her goal is to help increase profitability and efficiency for every cattleman. She also serves as a consultant on minerals, artificial insemination, herd health and enjoys showing cattle across the state.
  • Gwen McPhail – Gwen and her family’s farm is located almost on the Georgia line and produces seedstock Angus bulls and heifers. They sell freezer beef to local families as well as several local restaurants. She also serves on the board of The Foothills Agricultural Resource and Marketing Center as well as the Foothills Heritage Farmers Market. She served on the Oconee County Planning Commission for over 10 years, helping get over 1500 acres zoned for agricultural use in the county.
  • Georgeanne Webb – Georgeanne runs a farm with her husband located just outside of Greenville, where they raise seed-stock-registered Charolais bulls and heifers and sell freezer beef to local families. She is president of the SC Charolais Association and has held several national leadership positions in the industry.

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