February 2, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

More and more Kentucky farmers are offering their beef to local consumers. Consumers benefit by obtaining a fresher product and farmers benefit by increasing their income. 

University of Kentucky College of AgricultureEconomist Lee Meyer said that even though Kentucky is one of the largest cattle-producing states, a vast majority of the cattle are sent west for additional feeding before harvest. 

“The reason is because Kentucky’s climate and feed economy are not well suited for large-scale beef production,” he said. “However, small scale beef production is feasible and consumers do have the option to buy locally produced beef.”

Kentucky beef producers offer consumers a lot of variety because they use many different systems of raising their animals. They offer grass-finished, organic, grain-fed, highly marbled and aged.

Traditionally consumers buy beef in large quantities from local producers such as a half or quarter steer. A quarter usually has about 100 to 150 pounds of meat and includes steaks, roasts and ground beef. The cost varies but usually ranges from $300 to $500.

“This system may seem confusing but most experienced producers can help the buyer figure out how many pounds of each cut will be delivered,” Meyer said. “An advantage is that buyers can have the meat cut and packaged exactly as they want. If you want a 2-inch thick steak, that is your decision.”

If consumers don’t want such large quantities of meat, they do have other options to still buy local beef. Some farmers’ markets offer local beef and some meat shops are operated by farmers and food coops. Furthermore, some butcher shops will handle local products. All of these outlets give consumers opportunities to buy cuts that fit their family’s preference.

“If you can’t find a farmer who sells meat, your county Extension agent is a good place to start,” Meyer said. “If there is a meat processor in your community, the manager will be a great resource for finding farmers who sell local beef.”

For more information, visit the UK Direct and Local Meat Marketing Program Web site. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Partners for Family Farms publish a directory of Kentucky produced food products. Contact Partners for Family Farms at (859) 233-3056 or visit the KDA Web site.


Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267
Contact: Lee Meyer 859-257-7272, ext. 228