Friends, neighbors, and meat enthusiasts,
We are excited to announce the launch of a GoFundMe Campaign for Meatsmith Co-op. Our mission is simple: to create and operate a producer- and worker-owned meat processing cooperative that promotes the well-being of people, animals and land. Okay, maybe it's not that simple.
By providing access to humane on-farm harvest, nose-to-tail butchery, locally produced meats and educational opportunities – all with a focus on fostering the economic growth and resilience of our Driftless community – we feel we can impact real change in our meat ecosystem.
If you’re a small farmer or work with one, you already know that it is challenging to schedule timely harvest dates and market local meat to consumers. In large part, this difficulty arises from a lack of access to inspected slaughter and butcher facilities that are willing to work with a small number of animals at a reasonable price. We want Meatsmith Co-op to be just that kind of facility – and we need your support to get there.
Since 2020 our board of directors has worked tirelessly to realize our ultimate goal: providing meat from local producers to their customers, whether through farmer’s markets, direct shipping or local butcher cases. Currently, there are some 7,000 farms in our six-county area with under $100,000 in annual revenue and only a limited number of slaughter and processing facilities to serve them. We aim to help fill that gap between demand and supply.
To do this we need...
(1) A facility. We think we found one! Located at 204 E. Milwaukee Street in Argyle, WI, we plan to renovate this 1970’s grocery store into a state-inspected meat processing facility.
(2) Equipment. Walk-in coolers and freezers, hanging rails, bandsaw, grinder, stuffer, vacuum packaging machine, and lots of sharp things for cutting.
(3) Operating capital. As we ramp up production and bring more members into our co-op, we still need funding to pay our outstanding employees and equally impressive utility companies.
We’re asking for your help in raising $20,000, so we can continue pushing forward in these efforts. There are many ways you can support us…
- Share our story. Post our link on your Facebook, Instagram or local bulletin board, basically, whatever you feel comfortable doing. High fives to all of you for sharing!
- Pledge whatever amount feels right for you. We really, really appreciate it!
We are currently accepting producer members of cattle, hogs, sheep and goats.
Unlike most traditional businesses, in a co-op, no one individual owns the business: it is created by the community, for the community. And our focus is on what is best for our members, both producers and workers. Among other benefits, we’ll be offering…
- Priority processing
- Reduced costs for services
- A vote on how the co-op operates
And it gets even better! We are applying for matching grants from the USDA and the State of Wisconsin, so for every dollar you donate, we can potentially double that money. And of course we will be getting loans, so the equity you offer us will be leveraged against our robust business plan for the co-op’s future! For more information, or to sign up, please visit our Membership Page.
Phases of Meatsmith’s development:
Custom-exempt (i.e., uninspected) slaughter and processing: We’ll be outfitting our facility with coolers, equipment, etc. and working with mobile slaughter services already in operation. Meat will be marked “not for sale” and returned to the animal’s owner(s).
Inspected slaughter and processing: We’ll be making the needed upgrades to the facility and outfitting a mobile slaughter unit to meet Wisconsin state inspection standards. Producers can then sell meat anywhere in the state.
Cooperative Interstate Shipment program (CIS): After at least six months with State inspection status, we’ll apply to the CIS program. It’s more paperwork for us, but producers can then sell meat anywhere in the United States!!
Order fulfillment: Added services to help our producer-members reach a wider customer base.
Retail storefront: Sale of local meats, cheeses, produce and value-added products in our own storefront in Argyle, WI.
You've been so kind to read this far. We hope our vision to unite farmers, consumers, butchers and the community resonates with you and you'll consider being a supporter. Always feel free to check out our website at www.MeatsmithCoop.com or our Facebook page at Meatsmith Coop to stay in touch.
Photo 1: Board members Pete Lammers, Heather Oppor, April Prusia and Heidi Hoff on a tour at Prem Meats in Spring Green. Photo by Marty Prem.
Photo 2: Board president April Prusia among her pasture-raised Gloucester Old Spot heritage hogs. Photo by Steve Fabos.
Photo 3: The former grocery store in Argyle, WI, that we intend to convert into an efficient meat processing facility and retail facility. Photo by Heather Oppor.
Photo 4: The Natural Harvest mobile slaughter unit in action at April Prusia's farm. With their encouragement, we intend to replicate the Natural Harvest model for state-inspected, humane, on-farm harvest. Photo by April Prusia.