Local Amish farmer ventures into processing meat for the community

Home of Country View Locker ... Elmer Miller of rural Waukon opened the doors to his new Country View Locker meat processing business in December of this past year. Miller took the experience he gained over the past 10 years butchering livestock for family and friends and turned it into his new full-time business venture, constructing this new building at the home of the business at 1288 Grant Road, rural Waukon.

by David M. Johnson

Amish communities have established their identity with the horse drawn buggies, no electricity, and late 19th/early 20th century farming techniques. One local member of the Amish neighborhood has recently decided to move on to something a little different, developing his own meat processing business.

Elmer Miller, 26, of rural Waukon is very enthusiastic about his promising new business endeavor. He, with his dad, had dabbled in construction, farming and a sawmill but over the past few years had tried his hand at butchering livestock. He had done some meat processing the last 10 years with his father before expanding to where he is today as a true business venture.

Miller had butchered meat for family, friends and neighbors before he purchased the kill equipment, hooks and trolleys from Quillin’s Food Ranch in Waukon. It appeared that the time was right to advance even deeper in meat processing, and with some assistance from Jim Baxter, Miller added these accessories.

With the additional kill equipment, coolers were built, with diesel engines providing the power for the coolers, and there was construction for a processing floor.

“It was expensive, definitely invested a lot of money, but I still am young and should come out of it,” observed this Amish entrepreneur.

All permits and inspections were completed to prime the start of the operation. There will continue to be quarterly inspections to ensure a safe product.

The zoning permit took the longest of all the government permits, Miller said. All the government entities were very helpful, and Miller said he had a great deal of positive interaction with the government.

When all appeared to meet Miller’s satisfaction, Country View Locker officially opened its doors December 12, 2022 at 1288 Grant Road in rural Waukon.

What has been the response since that opening? First came in all the deer from deer hunting season.  During the first week 20 deer were dropped off by local hunters. The entire deer hunting season a total of 45 deer were delivered to the front door of this fledging enterprise.

Beside the cooler space for the deer, 10 beef and 10 hogs can also be stored. So far, total capacity has not been reached.

Asked if there has been any response from customers loyal to other meat lockers in the area, Miller responded with, “We aren’t big enough to take away business from others.”

This locker can do all cuts, has a smoker and pretty much can meet any butchering needs demanded by the public. The public’s reaction so far has been positive as Miller continues his operation, hiring two employees to assist with the processing in the locker.

Miller has seen nothing but positive experiences during the operation and has had a somewhat busy schedule, but he still has time to be with his wife, Susan, and their 10-month-old baby. All attention is now on developing a business that meets the satisfaction of the public. There has been no desire to expand at the moment. Perhaps a jump into retail may be in the future, but that appears to be way down the road at this point.

Miller has found it truly amazing what this business entails, processing beef, pork, sheep and deer in December. He says it has been a rewarding adventure, as he enjoys the work and interacting with the customers. Always open to advice and suggestions, this Amish butcher hopes this meat locker on Grant Road will be one that will be considered another element that is part of the community and the county at large.