North Cascade Meat Producers Cooperative (NCMPC) is pleased to support significant progress toward the membership, financial, and legal goals necessary to become an operating cooperative. NCMPC is designed to provide both the facilities needed to process locally produced meat and provide, when desired, marketing and distribution to supermarkets, restaurants, and institutions for our producer members.
NCMPC now has 20 members and $37,500 of membership equity investment. In addition NCMPC has secured the commitment of a “matching fund” loan of up to $65,000 from the Whatcom Community Foundation to support our cooperative in its effort to raise membership equity and open a USDA-inspected meat processing business to serve the North Puget Sound region. The cooperative’s 20 current members come from Island, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom Counties with total current livestock counts of 760 beef, 220 lamb, and 280 hogs.
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. Members of the cooperative presented this program, marketing materials, and pricing with Whatcom County’s Community Food Co-op, Western Washington University Food Services-Aramark, Peace Health Food and Nutrition Services, and Fiamma Burger garnering positive responses. We need another fifteen to twenty members and $27,500 in equity investment to have sufficient available live stock and fully maximize the $65,000 matching fund loan opportunity.
The cooperative plans to offer WSDA Custom Exempt and USDA-Inspected processing services, as well as a branded wholesale and distribution program for members who purchase at the “North Cascade Meats” share level. A key component of the cooperative’s business plan will be the use of a USDA-inspected mobile slaughter unit which will be leased from the Pierce County Conservation District. This self-contained unit can be stationed at specific sites throughout the North Puget Sound region and 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.
An exciting element of this plan is the development of the North Cascade Meats, A Farmers Cooperative brand. The cooperative’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 grains), no feed antibiotics or hormones are used, no petroleum-based fertilizers are used on pastures, and no detrimental impacts to riparian areas are permitted. The cooperative will purchase livestock from participating members at favorable prices, and process, market and distribute under this branded label.
The market opportunity is strong. We’re gaining financial strength. We’re looking for committed high quality meat producers. Come join us!
Patrick Grover, President