Farm Bureau President praises meat cooperative
Locally grown meat served in area restaurants

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Due to food scares, which are “entirely too frequent occurrences,” Ripley County Farm Bureau President Paul Anderson says homegrown natural meats are the taste of the future in Ripley County.

Anderson is part of a fast growing cooperative that provides fresh, high quality, local meat to families right here in Ripley County. The Hoosier Hills Homegrown Natural Meats Cooperative is catching on. It was formed in September of 2006, and a year later is providing fresh meat to area restaurants, meat markets, schools and individuals. The cooperative includes a 14 county area in southeastern Indiana.

Anderson noted that Ripley County partners with Jennings County who initially launched the program providing fresh produce. It has grown with Ripley County joining in and seeing South Ripley as the pilot school to receive meat through a grant program.

Bonaparte’s Retreat in Napoleon and Tha’ Store Café in Sunman, are two customers of the cooperative. A plaque hangs in their establishments noting Hoosier Hills Homegrown Natural Meats Served Here “From our farm to your table.”

Anderson says it’s literally that close. The meat is taken from the local farmer to French’s Locker in Batesville where it is processed, and then goes directly to the restaurants. “I deliver the meat myself,” laughed Anderson, who knows first hand how fresh the product is.

Part of the cooperative, the Westport Slaughter House provides meat to a new endeavor in Madison, the City Meat Market. There customers can purchase a variety of fresh meats that are locally grown and processed.

Anderson says the beef is processed the old fashioned way, letting it hang 14 days to cure. He said that process gives the best flavor and is the safest in his estimation. The faster way would be to process it immediately with chemicals, dyes and more.

The meat has no artificial growth hormones, preservatives, dyes or added water. It is raised under strict guidelines and packaged in state inspected processing facilities.

When restaurants order the cuts of meat they want, they can customize their requests. “If a restaurant wants a half inch cut they get it,” noted Anderson.

Noting that the key word is “local”, Anderson says local farmers raise the meat, it is locally processed, and then passed to local customers. “We can tell the county the meat comes from, and even trace it to the actual farm,” he noted.

“It’s a win-win situation,” noted Anderson. He said the producers get a bonus when a certain criteria is met, they don’t have to travel far to take their livestock, the slaughter house gets more business, and the biggest winner is the consumer, who gets the “pure, fresh, safe” meat.

Anderson says their prices are “more than competitive” and since January of this year the cooperative has been growing steadily. Local Extension Agent Dave Osborne has established a certified training program that is “really nothing more than what a good farmer does anyway,” according to Anderson.

The future is bright for the group who has plans to expand out of the 14 county area and even out of the state. They have hopes of beginning to sell the product to local schools.

The group is embarking on a promotional program right now with the Batesville FFA group selling boxes of meat as a fundraiser. Anderson noted that his wife priced the individual cuts of meat at a local grocer and found that they have the box of meat priced $20 less than the store. The boxes feature grill cuts. Anderson noted that fundraisers of this type can be arranged for any organization that is interested.

Anderson concluded by saying, “The program will save the family farm, save local processors, and provide an excellent product for everyone.”