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Beef co-op planned for Kemper County

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Aug. 21, 2001
Proponents of a new cooperative in Kemper County say cattle farmers could make more money at market.
The planned cooperative, which would be operated by Stokes' organization, would help sell local beef through outlet stores in Jackson and Meridian. Cattle farmers would receive a pro-rated portion of the profits.
Currently, cattle farmers make money only at the wholesale level. The beef is marked up significantly after the animal is slaughtered and sold in grocery stores.
The cooperative would process, package and ship the meat from a facility in Kemper County. Stokes estimates the facility would employ 15 to 20 people, with starting pay averaging $8 to $10 an hour. Stokes' group is currently working on two grants to provide the necessary $1.5 million start-up money.
The cooperative could be running within the next six to eight months.
Mike McGrevey, executive director of the Kemper County Economic Development Authority, has been working with Stokes to establish the cooperative.
Stokes envisions 40 local farms being involved in the cooperative's initial stages. If all works out as planned, he said, the program could expand to include more farms.
For information, call Fred Stokes at (662) 476-5568.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.