Where’s the Meat? Ask Northeast Livestock Processing Service

The Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company (NELPSC) connects producers and processors for made-to-order meat products — and increased sales for both.

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Dan Gibson at Grazin’ Angus Acres Farm in Ghent, NY, says, “Working with the right processor is essential for profitability.” Photo by Robert Ragaini

Livestock farmers formed NELPSC in 2006 to address the challenge of obtaining quality processing for livestock and poultry. Today, the farmer-owned company works with 95 livestock farmers and 8 processors and those numbers are growing.

Dan Gibson of Grazin’ Angus Acres says, “Working with the right processor helps me sell my products and is essential for profitability.”

Gibson grazes 250 head of Registered Black Angus beef cattle on 450 acres in Ghent, NY, 25 miles southeast of Albany.

“My cattle are 100 percent grass-fed, grass-finished and I grow them to 1,300 to 1,500 pounds before processing,” Gibson says.

Fifteen hundred pounds of beef on the hoof, however, is price-less without proper processing.

When Gibson’s young herd had grown large enough for year-round sales, “I did not have a steady processor and that is critical to having a consistent product supply.”

NELPSC Processing and Marketing Coordinator Kathleen Harris introduced Gibson to Ernie Ward at E&L Meats in Richfield Springs, NY.

“Ernie is the best knife I’ve come across and that has a real impact on my business,” Gibson says. “NELPSC linked me with a processor small enough that I matter to him, but sophisticated enough to grow with me.”

Ward established his business three years ago after working for other processors. He processes everything from tongue to T-bone. Gibson is happy to sell a full array of products at farmers’ markets in Ghent, Albany, Kinderhook; at New York City Greenmarkets; and to restaurants.

“As Dan’s business grows, so does mine,” Ward says. “Kathleen is very good at establishing good communication with a new client. I need to know what kind of processing producers want to be able to sell their products and they need to understand how I do what I do. Kathleen’s help saved me time and energy.”

Gibson drives 2½ hours to reach E&L. He wanted Ward to process only 4-5 animals the day they are delivered to the USDA-certified plant. Ward can process seven animals per day. Together, Ward and Gibson, who has a background in finance, analyzed the hours involved in processing only Gibson’s cattle and Ward adjusted his charges accordingly.

“We were able to meet halfway with each making changes to how we do things,” Ward says.

“I need Ernie to be profitable as much as he needs me to sell my products profitably and keep coming back for more processing,” Gibson says. “Ernie does a fantastic job of packaging. Good-looking, properly-labeled products help me garner premium pricing.”

Gibson sells everything from $3/lb. suet to $31/lb. filet mignon. He expects to increase his processing with Ward by 50 percent to 150 animals in 2010.

Harris says, “Gibson and Ward are a perfect example of how NELPSC matches producers with processors based on proximity, price, product and packaging needs, and processing capability.”

NELPSC was founded with support from the New York Farm Viability Institute, the Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Council, and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets.  The company assists producers and processors with scheduling, in-plant oversight, technical and marketing assistance, and issue resolution. NELPSC connects farmer-members with prospective buyers, and buys livestock for college and other wholesale meat accounts.

The New York Farm Viability Institute has awarded grant funds to help NELPSC establish a USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plant.

Producers pay NELPSC a $50 start-up fee and per head facilitation fee. For more information, contact Harris at 518-673-5193, nelpsc@frontiernet.net.

This article first appeared in American Agriculturalist and is reprinted with permission. 

Avatar of Kara Lynn Dunn

Kara Lynn Dunn

Kara Lynn Dunn is a freelance writer based in Mannsville, NY. She may be reached at 315-465-7578 or karalynn@gisco.net.

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