Cornell Cooperative Extension has expanded a program into Oneida and Herkimer counties that puts consumers in touch with local farmers to purchase livestock meat at bulk rates.

Cornell Cooperative Extension has expanded a program into Oneida and Herkimer counties that puts consumers in touch with local farmers to purchase livestock meat at bulk rates.

The Meat Suite program originated in 2012 in Tompkins County before growing into nine counties across the state, but thanks to a $100,000 grant acquired earlier this year from the New York Farm Viability Institute, it now reaches into 16 additional counties, including Oneida and Herkimer.

Its website — MeatSuite.com — connects consumers interested in buying local meat with local farms selling meat in bulk in an effort to promote farm viability and food affordability. So far there are four participating farms in Oneida County and three in Herkimer County.

(Story continues below)

 

According to research conducted by Cooperative Extension, selling meat directly to consumers by the whole, half or quarter animal is more profitable for the farmer and more affordable for consumers. When purchased in bulk, local meat prices are competitive with meat sold in grocery stores.

Marty Broccoli, an agriculture economic development specialist for the organization, said the program helps further promote the locavore movement, and gives people the option to have grass-fed antibiotic-free meat. He said the next phase of the program will take that even further by setting up locations throughout the region where those who do not have freezer capacity can rent units to keep their meat.

"It's not for everyone right now, but it has enough legs under it that we want to expand it even further and give more people who want to purchase meat this way but have nowhere to keep it, the opportunity to join in," Broccoli said. 

Follow @OD_Vanno on Twitter or call him at 315-792-5074.