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SC Commissioner Weathers: SC Beef Co-op Update

SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers is back in the studio to tell us about a new beef marketing cooperative in the state. 

  • In April of this year, a group of South Carolina cattle farmers formed the SC Beef Marketing Cooperative.
  • South Carolina Center for Cooperative and Enterprise Development, a collaborative effort between SCDA, Clemson University Cooperative Extension, the South Carolina State Small Business Development Center and Matson Consulting.
  • The farmers formed the co-op with the goals of increasing beef processing capacity and creating a South Carolina-branded beef product. 
  • Kentucky has a branded beef product, and they’re looking at that as a model.
  • The meat processing facilities in South Carolina are small in scale. They can’t keep up with South Carolina beef producers’ processing needs. 
  • Beef producers would be willing to expand current operations if facilities could meet the demand.
  • Steven Richards, director of the SC Center for Cooperative and Enterprise Development, completed a study last year suggesting that a $3 million investment in six existing facilities could expand in-state processing capacity by 50 percent and create 50 new jobs.
  • The co-op was awarded a USDA Value-Added Producer Grant to commission a feasibility study on expanding small beef processing facilities around the state to improve capacity.
  • Recently the co-op hosted Kari Underly, founder of Range Meat Academy, for a demonstration on beef quality and fabrication, which was also funded by a USDA grant.
  • This new effort is a great example of how we can boost our state’s rural areas and model innovation among agribusinesses.