The idea of buying bulk organic meat directly from a farm which raises beef cattle is catching on once again. That is especially the case as people ponder rising prices in grocery stores caused by this summer's drought. Many farmers had to sell their beef cattle because they could not afford or easily find the grain to feed them. While that could cause prices to go down for a while on the "meat market" they could rise again with less meat available. Some farmers point out there is a three year cycle from conception to the actual point where a cow should be sold for slaughter.
But at Parable Farm in Ripley, Chautauqua County and similar operations they are raising grass fed cattle which can be sold to the public. Keith and Pat Hagenbuch, who operate the farm with other families, stress that their animals do not recieve hormones or antibiotics like the cows raised on larger industrial farms and that they are actually better treated. They say their pigs and poultry are also properly cared for on the farm.
They do offer a whole or half cow for sale and note that several families will often form a partnership to cover the expense of getting hundreds of pounds of meat. They also offer 40 pound boxes of various cuts of meat, roasts, and steaks. Their prices are comparable or even a bit better than the organic meat sold by some supermarket chains.
Such farms often work through a Department of Agriculture licensed and inspected meat processing firm but you should check all options at the farms before making a purchase. Here is a list of NY farms which offer bulk meat purchases.