Times are changing in the meat industry — and a group of farmers and ranchers in Alameda, Saskatchewan has formed a co-op to make it work better for them.

The group plans to buy and expand a local butcher shop whose owner is nearing retirement and struggling with capacity issues. The Southeast Butcher Block Co-operative will give meat producers in the area access to more butcher services, and consumers more options to purchase local meat. The co-op’s abattoir and meat retail shop aims to more than double the capacity and output of custom killing and retail sales in the community.

“We felt that [the co-op] model was the best way as it allows local producers and area-interested people to invest in a new pertinent local business that will allow them access to use an important entity locally, plus add new jobs to the area,” said a co-op representative. “Also, it allows everyone to have a little skin in the game when it comes to this business allowing them to have their say.”

In a recent radio interview, SEBB founding member Trent Dorrance said the business will help the local meat sector adjust to changes.

“It’s a big issue across the province – there’s too many cows to kill, and with the changing times in the last couple of years there’s more farmers selling farm gate to consumer beef… Consumers want more of a stake in where their meat comes from. And we’re opening this up not just to beef but we’re also opening up to bison, sheep, pork, and wild game as well, and consumers want that. It gives them the opportunity to buy local and they have a stake in that as well.”

Co-operatives First is pleased to have assisted the South East Butcher Block Co-operative to incorporate their business and to create a business plan. We love to see dedicated rural producers coming together to find ways to thrive.