Why big business means you can’t eat this beautiful organic meat
It’s incredibly frustrating... it’s pretty heartbreaking...
Who wouldn’t want to be popping a steak from one of these beauties on the barbie? Sadly, unless the current situation changes, the exceptional meat from all those happy, organically-raised sheep and cattle won’t be arriving in a shop near you any time soon. Bev and David were certified organic for years when they owned a butchery in Warkworth, just north of Auckland, but let the certification lapse once they sold the shop and stopped selling meat.
They didn’t intend to stop, but they, along with a number of other smallto-medium-sized farms, now don’t have access to an abattoir that will kill and process their stock as small operators are going out of business.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” says Bev. “You sometimes wonder why you do all of this when you can’t actually get your product to market. The big businesses own everything and are really not interested in allowing smaller operations to get established.”
It’s a problem that’s well-known by other local operators too, who are all in the same boat since the sale of Oxville Farm’s private abattoir at Hikurangi in Northland.
Phil and Annie Armstrong of Whangaripo Buffalos have decided to have a go at setting up a mobile abattoir. They have buffalo sitting in their paddocks that should have been in a freezer by now, or feeding the happy buffalo-burger fans at Matakana Farmers’ Markets.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking when you’ve got all this beautiful beef and no way of getting it on to people’s plates,” says Phil.
Bev has reluctantly (but hopefully temporarily) put a hold on her dream of selling Muriwai Valley Farm organic meat to the general public.
“It’s not possible just now, and farming is hard enough as it is,” she acknowledges with a wry grin. “You have to decide where you’re going to put your energy, and mine’s currently gone back into breeding and selling the best stock I can.”