NC Choices hosts retreat for women in meat industry

A retreat in Chapel Hill May 20-22 will focus on the emerging role of women in the meat industry. The Women Working in the Meat Business Retreat is hosted by NC Choices and sponsored by the Farm Credit Associations of North Carolina. Scholarships are available for women meat producers, meat processors and food professionals from North Carolina.

The two-day, two-night retreat will focus on hands-on meat cutting, marketing, and merchandising. Both sessions will be facilitated by Master Butcher Kari Underly, author of The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising.

“Women are increasingly playing a leadership role in the meat sector, whether it’s as livestock producers, meat butchers, chefs or business owners,” said NC Choices’ Program Coordinator Sarah Blacklin. “We’ve developed a unique retreat designed to address the challenges female professionals face in a male-dominated arena.”

Retreat participants will engage in hands-on whole hog and beef butchery training from Underly, a third generation meat cutter, inventor of the flat iron steak and James Beard Award nominee. They also will improve their understanding of how to market and merchandise meat products with increased proficiency, communication and confidence in an intimate environment with top industry professionals.

The workshop will include instruction on how to make specialty sausage, so participants will leave with meat to take home. Butchery classes will be located in “Lantern Table,” Lantern restaurant’s new community kitchen and private dining room on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill. Registration is limited to the first 25 participants.

Farm Credit Associations of North Carolina are providing scholarships for women industry professionals from North Carolina.

“This is an important need, and we are thrilled to be supporting NC Choices’ program,” said Maggie Hamm, senior vice president of marketing for Carolina Farm Credit in Statesville. “This event will be a superb opportunity for women who work in local and niche meat business to learn more about the important role they are playing in advancing the local meat industry.”

A number of local business are also sponsoring the event, including Chapel Hill’s Lantern Restaurant, which will provide space for participants to learn how to breakdown a beef and hog carcass, fabricate specialty cuts and create and prepare value-added products. Accommodations will be at the Chapel Hilltop Lodge, an agritourism lodge located on 46 acres outside of Chapel Hill.

“We look forward to bringing our female leaders together to network and increase their technical skills,” said Blacklin of NC Choices.

Retreat Package: $400 per participant. Includes overnight accommodations at The Chapel Hilltop Lodge eight miles outside Chapel, on 46 acres with an organic garden, saltwater pool, balconies, patios, pool table, exercise room and common space in an agricultural setting. Meals include complimentary breakfast, lunch at the Carolina Brewery, cocktail social hour and a special dinner at Lantern Restaurant, recognized by Gourmet Magazine as one of “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” and “best farm-to-table restaurants.”

NC Choices, a program of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, promotes sustainable and niche meat production in North Carolina. CEFS is a partnership of N.C. State University, N.C. A&T State University and N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

For more information on the Farm Credit Associations of North Carolina please visit:,, is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.