A year after CHMA first covered Homegrown Meats of Tantramar, we got in touch with local entrepreneur and owner Dave Hunter to hear about how the business has grown and changed since its inception. Hunter says that the price of beef has more than doubled in the last few years, placing his business in a position to thrive. He’s secured points of sale for several local meat producers in “every corner of the province.” Hunter says he’s beginning to look at different parts of the supply chain, and is contemplating the creation of a “baby factory” in the neighbouring community of Dorchester, where Homegrown Meats employees would breed beef cattle, in order to ensure a stable, accessible supply of local cattle for the region’s farmers.

Hunter is concerned about the long-term stability of growth in the beef industry, and is thinking about what might happen if the price of beef collapses. “I’m not looking to make a million bucks off of this,” says Hunter, “but if I can roll 15-20 cattle, and these farmers are getting paid cash on the hood of their pickup truck when they leave the door, and then they don’t have to worry about the money part of it, if we can protect the price if it ever falls down again, then I think I’ve done my job. That’s really all I care about. I don’t want these guys to go broke. Because if they go broke, we’re gonna be eating hormone and steroid-filled, GMO-fed cattle.”

“When I grew up,” says Hunter, “the farmers were the richest people in the area. When I got out of high school [in Maple Ridge, BC], if you were looking to start a business and needed some capital, you know, ten thousand, twenty thousand, you’d go to the farmer, and he’d go into his back room and pull out a box of cash, and you’d shake on it and say ‘yeah, okay, man, I’ll pay you back’. Those were the guys investing in the young guys back then, the farmers. And then somehow it all got switched around. It seemed like, overnight, they became the bottom of the barrel. They were just getting treated like [dirt].” Hunter predicts that over the next five years, farming jobs will become attractive to young people again.

“There’s plenty of opportunity work in New Brunswick, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves,” says Hunter.