The North Cascades Meat Producers Cooperative has received a matching-funds loan of up to $65,000 from the Whatcom Community Foundation to support the organization’s effort to raise membership equity and open a new meat-processing business in the north Puget Sound area.
The group has also just approved its 20th member, according to a press release. All total, its current members come from Island, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.
“We are so pleased and thankful for this financial support,” Pat Grover, the cooperative’s president, said in a press release. “This type of community-based investment can send a powerful message to meat producers, the market and the community-at-large.”
“It takes a lot of commitment and support from diverse stakeholders to get a cooperatively owned business started. We have had a strong level of interest from supermarkets, restaurants and institutions who are interested in accessing local pasture-raised meat. We need another fifteen to twenty members and $27,500 in equity investment to fully maximize this matching fund loan opportunity and move to the next phase of our capital plan.”
The cooperative plans to offer WSDA Custom Exempt and USDA-Inspected processing services. Its business model will feature a USDA-inspected mobile slaughter unit, which will be leased from the Pierce County Conservation District.
The self-contained unit will be stationed at a farm site in Whatcom County and possibly a site in Skagit County, initially projected at six days per month. It can accommodate the harvest of up to 12 beef, 20 pork, or 30 lambs per day. The finished carcasses will then be transported in a refrigerated truck to a processing plant at a yet-to-be-determined location in Skagit County or Whatcom County.
The cooperative’s plan also includes development of meat-product brand called North Cascade Meats. The group’s board of directors has developed and agreed upon common production standards for beef, pork, and lamb that ensure animals are pasture or grass finished, no feed antibiotics or hormones are used, no petroleum-based fertilizers are used on pastures and no detrimental impacts to riparian areas are permitted.
Meat producers seeking more information on the North Cascades Meat Cooperative can visit www.northcascademeats.com or call 360-255-7112