Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Founder of Laura's Lean Beef wants to grow a new hyperlocal, self-sustaining agricultural economy

A Kentucky cattle farmer who founded an eco-friendly beef empire is setting her sights on a new project meant to "create jobs and wealth in rural Kentucky, build an alternative to the industrial agribusiness economic system, and remove the existential threat posed by greenhouse gases," Mark Green reports for The Lane Report, a Lexington-based business magazine.

When farmer Laura Ann Freeman founded Laura's Lean Beef in the early 1980's, she wanted to see if hormone- and antibiotic-free beef could compete in the supermarket with beef from larger suppliers. It turned out that people were willing to pay a little more for that. "By the time she sold the business in 2007, it had grown to a network of 600 organic beef farms across the nation and was doing $135 million in annual wholesale business," Green reports.

Freeman is using her seventh-generation, 1,500-acre family farm in Clark County as a test case, and if it works there, she hopes to recreate it across Kentucky, then nationwide. In essence, she wants to make her farm "the linchpin of a new, self-supporting hyperlocal agriculture economy that creates jobs and wealth, while also showing that regenerative land management practice sequesters carbon to reverse climate change," Green reports.

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