Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

NC Choices - Women Working in the Meat Business Program

Durham, North Carolina
Farm Credit Affiliation
Carolina Farm Credit
NC Choices - Women Working in the Meat Business Program's Perspective

The Women Working in the Meat Business (WWMB) program is sponsored by NC Choices (NCC) and designed to help women overcome real and perceived barriers in their meat business careers by offering educational, technical, and business planning assistance while also building a professional network.

The program developed in response to the expressed need for specialized, intensive training by producers, butchers, processors and chefs. Now entering its third year, the intensive, three-day program has helped participants develop greater understanding and improved confidence in pricing and profit, efficient carcass utilization, marketing, and creating value-added products.

Led by NCC Program Director Sarah Blacklin, WWMB secured sponsorships that enabled 32 women from across the country to attend the inaugural program. As a result, the WWMB program has initiated widespread conversations pertaining to local foods and the role of women in this growing sector. WWMB also secured media attention, including a feature story on local and National Public Radio segments and a New York Times article that identified the program as the nation’s only retreat for women in the meat business. Such media coverage has helped bring attention to this underserved population of pioneering women in the national niche meat industry.

“I believe women farmers, processors, distributors and marketers have the ability to problem-solve key supply chain challenges and advance our local food and farming system,” says Sarah. “ I would like to see more women build confidence, deepen professional networks, and become visible leaders in agriculture in order for others to follow. I hope these seminars are one step in that process and that we continue to make more resources available to bolster successful female leaders.”

The program’s success has grown with each year, and high demand for workshop spots has doubled the class size with participants representing an ever-broader geography. The WWMB program has also served as a model for other regional meat conferences that now include sessions specifically focused on women working in the meat business.

“We need minds from every sector: environmental, social, economic, political, and human, to work together to make agriculture adaptive so that it can respond to a changing future and resilient so that it can continue to serve as the foundation of our local communities,” says Sarah.

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