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Local cattle farmer sells beef at Kroger

By Glenn McGlothlin

glenn.mcglothlin@gmail.com

Jessamine County shoppers now have a local option to purchase beef at their local Kroger store courtesy of the work of Nicholasville cattle farmer Charles Miller.

Miller, who has been a cattle farmer for over 35 years, said his beef products have been sold in 85 Kroger stores in the Louisville division since last March.

“I am so very proud and excited to see an all Kentucky local beef product being offered to our customers,” Miller said. “We take a great deal of pride in what we do as beef producers and want customers to be a part of that as well.”

Miller’s beef is sold under the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef label in a black and yellow vacuum sealed pack.

Miller said Kroger initially approached the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association with the idea of selling locally grown beef and has been helpful and understanding throughout the whole process.

“They have had to be patient as we literally had to start from the ground up in a business that was totally new to all of us,” Miller said.

The path from the pasture to the store shelves has several steps, Miller said. It all begins when the animals are enrolled in the program and given a delivery date. In addition, every farmer is required to be Beef Quality Assurance certified.

Miller said the cows are then sent to Lee County in central-eastern Kentucky where they are processed by The Chop Shop. The meat is checked for e-coli before being sent to Creation Gardens in Louisville. At Creation Gardens, Miller said the meat is ground to Kroger’s specifications then packaged and labeled. Finally, the product is delivered across the street to the Kroger distribution center where it is shipped throughout the region.

David Neville, a cattle farmer and founder and owner of Kentucky Dawgs, LLC, said beef grown and sold locally can have a powerful impact on the Kentucky economy and can go beyond the expectation that most people hold. Neville said he uses locally grown beef in all his products.

“It supports the farmers and all of Kentucky,” Neville said.

While Neville said most people are put off by the higher prices, once they hear the story behind the local beef and the farmers that grow it, the price is less important than supporting fellow Kentuckians.

Miller said there are at least four other Jessamine County farmers with cows in the program and their goal is simple, to provide residents with a local product.

“It is our goal to provide Kentucky consumers with a locally produced, all-natural beef product that will taste great as well as let Kentucky consumers feel comfortable that they are supporting local Kentucky farmers,” Miller said.