The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS), in conjunction with University of Maine, has initiated a new project, “More Maine Meat,” which seeks to improve economic returns for livestock producers in Maine, in addition to growing the meat industry in the state with more forage-based resources. The vision includes Maine farmers satisfying a larger proportion of Maine and New England’s demand for meat.
“More Maine Meat” focuses on red meat production, processing and distribution.
A working group of producers, processors, distributors and commodity group leaders, along with University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Department of Agriculture representatives, met recently in Hallowell to outline goals and visions for a prosperous and vibrant livestock industry. Representatives from almost all Maine counties were in attendance, from Aroostook to York.
The group worked through many issues with current problems that limit the potential growth of livestock production, including processing, production and distribution of product to market. While many different opinions and solutions were raised, the group was committed to moving forward, according to Rick Kersbergen, a UMaine Extension professor and expert in sustainable dairy and forage systems.
Under the leadership of MESAS, the working group will develop a plan of action that will draw upon existing resources throughout the Northeast as well as research specific issues that are relevant to Maine. The group will identify bottlenecks, provide information, data and support to entrepreneurs and provide expertise to specific enterprises as appropriate.
Kersbergen, who is working on the project with MESAS executive director and UMaine graduate Andrew Files, estimates a very small percentage of Maine’s and New England’s demand for meat is satisfied through state or regional producers. Most consumers get their red meat through supermarket chains that purchase meat from national sources.
The project is one of several being brought forward by MESAS, whose mission is to explore, develop and promote agricultural systems and practices that allow Maine farmers to retain a greater share of consumer expenditures for farm products. MESAS is membership-based and is served by a board of volunteer directors, including faculty from the University of Maine and Maine food and fiber producers. Click here for more information about MESAS.