What We Do
NC Choices provides information, technical assistance, educational programming, regulatory interpretation, and networking opportunities for farmers, extension agents, meat processors, buyers, distributors, and consumers.
Information: Please visit NC Choices’ resource page for up-to-date production, processing, product development, and marketing data including videos, fact sheets, and Cooperative Extension publications. If you don’t see a topic that you’re looking for, please email NC Choices’ staff. Your feedback helps inform our content.
Technical Assistance: NC Choices works with a team of advisors, Extension agents and specialists, technical consultants, and niche meat professionals to help address your questions and grow your pasture-based meat business. If you are a farmer, processor, meat entrepreneur, or allied business professional seeking help with production, processing, regulation, marketing, or business, please contact us. If you require an on-site visit or more in-depth business support, you might benefit from technical assistance from our staff or an outside consultant. As funding and time permit, NC Choices provides one-on-one support and/or subsidizes support from outside consultants. If you’re interested in receiving technical support, please click here.
Educational Programming: NC Choices hosts and supports a variety of pastured meat trainings, workshops, and conferences throughout the year. Find out about upcoming NC Choices happenings on the CEFS events page and news postings on our main page. Subscribe to the NC Choices listservs, and follow us on social media to get updates on pastured meat workshops across the state.
Regulatory Interpretation: Regardless of where you fall in the local meat supply chain, you need to deal with regulation. NC Choices works closely with the state’s meat regulatory authority, the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA MPID), to make sure you have all the resources you need to operate your business in a safe and responsible manner. While we are not regulators, we work with NCDA MPID to distill and interpret regulation, provide supplementary resources if needed, and answer questions along the way to make sure you are operating in accordance with state and federal law.
Networking Opportunities: NC Choices believes business owners learn best from like-minded business owners. That’s why we foster peer-to-peer networking opportunities for leaders in the pasture-based niche meat community to connect with and learn from one another.
- The Carolina Meat Conference is NC Choices’ largest networking event, and the only conference in the country solely dedicated to serving an audience of pasture-raised niche meat supply chain professionals. The bi-annual nationally recognized conference brings together every part of the meat supply chain, attracting upwards of 400 niche meat professionals from more than 20 states featuring 60+ speakers. Attendees have access to 25+ sessions over the course of the conference including hands-on meat fabrication, on-farm workshops, production-to-pricing business training for new and experienced niche meat professionals, in addition to a fantastic sponsor and exhibitor tradeshow. For more information visit carolinameatconference.com
- NC Choices also founded Women Working in the Meat Business, or Women in Meat for short. This conference originated in response to industry need, with the goal of supporting the growth of existing and emerging women-led meat businesses by tackling barriers women face in the meat industry. The conference offers targeted production-to-marketing training for women meat professionals. For more information, visit carolinameatconference.com
In addition to the ongoing support NC Choices provides to public and private sector partners across the local and pasture-raised niche meat supply chain, NC Choices’ staff and targeted projects are supported by grant funding. NC Choices program support is provided by the Golden Leaf Foundation and CEFS’ NC North Carolina Growing Together Project. With Golden Leaf and NC Growing Together program support, NC Choices is committed to
- Holding workshops, developing consumer and supply chain marketing materials. Visit NC Choices resource page a more comprehensive collection of niche meat outputs from current and past projects.
- Offering technical assistance to farmers, meat processors, extension educators, and the public.
- Developing markets for pasture raised meats, specifically targeting a set of 10 collaborating eastern NC retailers–butcher shops, specialty retailers, and farmers markets.
- Working within Cooperative Extension to make sure trainers are equipped with timely niche meat industry content and training materials.