For Marfa business owner Christy Miller, moving on from a financial software background that brought her little fulfillment, to being a local meat processor has not only changed the direction of her life, but also allowed her to achieve a high level of fulfillment.
In 2015, after stumbling into Marfa on her way to Houston from Denver, Miller instantly fell in love with the area, so much that she decided to purchase land and build a home there. Miller recalls how surprised she was to see that the Tri-County had over 84,000 head of cattle, but no local beef was found in nearby stores.
“I am a big meat eater, and I love steak, and I’m like, why is all the meat at the grocery store kind of gross looking?” questioned Miller.
After meeting a local rancher and cattle producer who encouraged her to delve into the meat processing business, Miller decided to start Marfa Meats, and the rest is history.
Marfa Meats has two elements - the custom-exempt processing side, and the USDA inspection side. The exempt side involves processing livestock for local producers that they can take home and use to stock their freezers or give to friends, but cannot be sold in the market.
The USDA inspected part involves beef processing to sell locally either to grocery stores or directly to consumers.
Most of the animals purchased from local producers are bought on the hoof, and most are raised locally, whether grass raised cattle on a ranch between Valentine and Fort Davis, grain-raised animals in Marfa, or lambs and hogs in Alpine.
Miller said local producers can get a better price. She is currently working on a USDA grant that would help jumpstart an apprenticeship program to train more butchers, and enable producers to sell directly to consumers, or wholesale.
Miller would provide them with the information they need to create a market and enable them to export their meat.
“We have such an amazing life out here, and I think it would be phenomenal if we can actually make West Texas a brand when it comes to beef,” said Miller. “That way, we can start getting our name out there, and create more opportunities for the producers here so they are making more money.”
Eventually, Miller wants to sell West Texas beef, lamb, goats, and hogs to consumers all over the country.
“There are many challenges of living in a place this remote,” admitted Miller. “I want to open avenues for our producers out here because its already such a hard go, living in a place that is in a drought, while still trying to make money, take care of your animals, and take care of the land. So whatever part we can play in increasing their profitability would make me feel like we are a success.”
Visit Marfa Meats at marfameats.com.