In late July, Asheville, North Carolina-based Hickory Nut Gap gathered cattle and hog farmers from its growing network of producers along with industry experts and customers to plan for the upcoming year. The day-long discussion included conversations about grazing management for grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork, sustainable farming practices, customer feedback sessions and advancements in regenerative agriculture.
Critical to the continued expansion of Hickory Nut Gap Meats’ regenerative farming practices was CEO Jamie Ager’s presentation about what he calls “The Possible Burger.” Ager believes that healthy and distinctly flavorful beef and pork can co-exist in a world where animals are treated humanely and rural farming communities grow stronger. Where the soil improves with each season and where the environment actually becomes more resilient by raising livestock on healthy pasture.
Ager pointed a finger at the new lab and factory-grown meat companies trying to convince us that this is impossible, and that raising high-quality, real meat on real pasture is beyond the carrying capacity of our planet.
“Companies like Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat have positioned themselves as tech brands solving the environmental problems with meat production,” Ager said. “But they offer only a skin-deep comparison to confinement livestock production. The binary conversation between confinement factory-farmed livestock and lab-grown meat is leaving out the solution with the greatest opportunity for planetary health: livestock raised on regenerative farms using pasture-based systems.”
He reinforced the fact that lab-grown meats are unnaturally produced using methods that may rely on artificial ingredients and industrial farming practices.
Hickory Nut Gap has been working with the Savory Institute for more than a year to establish Ecological Outcome Verification protocols that actually test and verify regenerative pastures. The Hickory Nut Gap network of farmers are part of a growing movement in livestock agriculture employing farming practices that regenerate soil, improve watershed quality, increase biodiversity, sequester carbon, provide healthy and humane living conditions for the animals and strengthen rural farming communities.
To read Ager’s full article about The Possible Burger, click here.
The farmers, customers and other industry attendees applauded Hickory Nut Gap Meats’ continued expansion of regenerative practices. Hickory Nut Gap Meats recognized its top farmers across the Appalachian region and Carolinas with Annual Farmer Awards.
“The 2021 Annual Farmers Meeting was a great experience for all who came, and I am tremendously grateful to our partner farmers who made the effort to leave their busy operations and join us for the event. It was a great day for our customers, farmers and processors to discuss the important work that’s being done to advance regenerative agriculture throughout every sector of the business. As a company, we deeply value the opportunity to come together with everyone involved to learn, network, and be in community with each other. We all thrive from the ground up,” said Asher Wright, Hickory Nut Gap farm director.