Kenkel Farms moves toward online meat sales with FFED guidance

August 14, 2020

by Leigh Adcock, FFED communications specialist

Parents and three children outdoors smiling. Kenkel Farms.

Kenkel Farms is a family farm in west central Iowa raising corn, beans, alfalfa and cattle. Sam and Chelsea also operate a custom baling business. They’ve been selling quarter and half shares of beef and pork to local customers for around 10 years.

A few weeks back, the couple contacted FFED for advice on creating an online sales outlet for their meat.

“COVID-19 has actually pushed us into action on an idea we’ve been kicking around for a few years now,” Chelsea said. “I feel that people are more aware that their food actually comes from a farmer they can visit with about what they are buying and not just a product from a store.”

Calf. Kenkel Farms.

Another factor, she said, was extremely low or even non-existent bids from packers recently, which spurred them to consider direct-marketing.

Getting guidance

After contacting the general FFED email, Chelsea connected with Christa Hartsook, who leads our Small Farms Team.

“We were looking for direction from Christa on how to take our meat sales from shares to retail, and start an on-farm store or retail store,” Chelsea said.

She said Christa has answered many questions on what the Kenkels will need to do from start to finish. They discussed labeling questions, storage questions, and other details to help bring this idea to light.

“Sam and Chelsea are thinking creatively about how to best align their farm business with the demands of the current market to remain profitable,” Christa said. “COVID-19 has increased demand from consumers for local meat products. It’s ideal to think about the potential market first and then do all the research to determine what regulations cover each aspect of the potential business model.”

T-bone steak and side dishes on plate. Kenkel Farms.

Chelsea says their next step will be to contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). They’ll start working on labels and getting certified/licensed to be able to store and retail. Once they are up and running with online beef sales, they plan to add other products to their lineup.


Looking for guidance on diversifying your farm’s revenue stream? Contact Christa Hartsook at hartc@iastate.edu.