Angel Acres Production
Angel Acres Farm loses processor, Outpost loses supply of fresh, local, organic chicken
Eileen and Jeff McCutchen have stopped raising chickens on their northern Wisconsin farm. They hope to do it again someday in the near future, but they won’t be able to until they find another processor who can do the custom processing they require.
Eileen and Jeff, owners of Angel Acres Farm, had worked with the state’s only federally licensed, organic chicken processing plant until recently when the owner scaled back for personal health reasons. Now, the couple is working to find a solution.
“It is a difficult thing right now. I’m at a food conference right now … lots of talk up here about processing plants and the desperate need for something,” Eileen said recently. “People are talking about it, but it is just a matter of facilitating it.”
The McCutchens live in the small town of Mason, in far northern Wisconsin. The area is sparsely populated and economically depressed. The community would welcome the jobs and Eileen says the demand for the kind of processing they need is there, but getting a processing plant up and running is a considerable financial undertaking. The financial aspect is the biggest obstacle, according to Eileen.
Outpost was really excited to start working with Eileen and Jeff. We started carrying their products in our three stores a little more than a year ago, said Anne Vedder, Outpost’s purchasing and category manager. Until then, we struggled to find a local supplier of organic chicken, let alone fresh, portioned chicken. It has always been difficult.
“Our customers asked us for fresh, local, organic, portioned chicken at a reasonable price, not too low, not too high,” Anne said.
Outpost still carries fresh, organic portioned chicken from Smart Chicken, which is based in Nebraska. But the situation confronting the McCutchens and smaller producers like them, underscores the difficulties faced by farmers and food producers, especially in the organic market.
Until they figure something out, the McCutchens hope customers understand. Outpost will still carry other products from Angel Acres, including their Berkshire pork and wieners.