About 402 Meats

It all started on small farm in Onalaska, WA. 

Jayme Jo Ahmann

I grew up on small farm in Onalaska, WA. My parents raised Holstein steers and then changed to cow calf pairs. We put up our own feed into a hayloft every summer. On top of full-time farm work, both parents had off-farm jobs. So, us kids helped to keep everything fed. Plus, we had pets and 4-H projects to care for of our own as well. This is where my love for cows and soil started.

Animal Science, Water Resource Management, and Bottle Feeding Baby Calves

After graduating high school from Onalaska High, I moved to Walla Walla to attend Walla Walla Community College. I obtained a technical degree in Water Resource Management. I transferred to Central Oregon Community College to finish an associate degree that would transfer to Oregon State University where I wanted to study Animal Science. During my time at Central Oregon Community College, I used my technical degree in Water Resource Management to work for North Unit Irrigation. I used GIS Mapping to map the districts entire canal system. After getting accepted into OSU, I decided to move back home to Onalaska. Once back home I worked as a receptionist for a veterinary hospital. During my time away from the farm I really missed cows. So, while being a receptionist I picked up a few bottle calves and raised them in my parents’ barn. Raising bottle calves turned out to be a good side hustle. I was good at raising baby calves. I could tell if one was getting sick before any symptoms showed just by the change in their attitude. My time in the barn was what I looked forward to every day. I love walking into a barn with hungry animals and listening to everything settle as you start to feed. By the time you are done feeding and cleaning, some of the animals would already be dozing off in clean bed and full tummy. To this day, this is my definition of satisfaction, a peaceful and clean barn.

Bachelors in Agricultural Science

During my time raising bottle calves and working as a receptionist I wanted to finish my degree. Oregon State offered a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science all online. I was accepted into their program. I studied soil science, animal science, cultural needs, economics, and business all under this degree. A common question that kept popping up in all my science classes was, “How are we going to feed a growing population with shrinking resources?” Meanwhile, I was hating my desk job and kept asking myself, “How can I make raising cattle a full-time job?”

Farming is a passion with personal care

I had three answers. It either needs to remain a side hustle, or I need to have hundreds of cows, or I need to direct market them and cut out all middlemen. I liked farming too much for it just to be a side hustle. I didn’t like the idea of raising hundreds of cattle because then cows would become numbers and it would be a volume game. If I could direct market them, I could keep low numbers and give each cow personal care.

I started developing a plan to direct market them. I knew I hated shift work and that I wanted to be self-employed. As I looked around me, I started looking for people whose life I wanted to live. One of them was a business owner that owned a rock crushing company. I asked him, as an inspiring business owner what advice would you give me? He replied, “You need to know everything about the product you are producing.” He held up a pencil, “If you are producing pencils you need to know how the wood is planted, managed, and harvested. The same with the lead, metal, and rubber eraser.”  It was this conversation that led me where I am today. I knew how to breed, feed, and raise cattle. But I did not know how to get them off their feet and on to a plate.

On a mission with a fire in my belly

To mitigate me not knowing how to get a beef off the hoof and on to plate, I bought a custom butcher shop. With a fire in belly to do something more than shift work, hands on hips, I marched into Onalaska Custom Meats and asked the owner if his shop was for sale and if I could buy it. He literally laughed at me and said maybe I should work a season with him, so I knew what I was asking for. I agreed to take his job offer. Between working as a receptionist, being a full-time student and raising my calves, a few hours a week I learned to wrap meat in his shop. Gradually I took less hours as a receptionist and more hours at the butcher shop. 

After a few months of working with him he told me he was going to sell. I replied, “You carry the contract, I’ll sell my herd for the down payment, and you have a buyer.” And it happened just like that. I was 25, single, living at my parents, no clue how to sharpen a knife or cut any carcass up, hire employees, or even how to pay the taxes that would be generating soon. I bought a custom butcher shop. I have now owned Finn’s Custom Meats for 7 years and I want to take the next steps in my original goal of direct marketing beef.

In the last 7 years I graduated from OSU with a Bachelors in Agricultural Science and a Master's Degree from Colorado State University in Integrated Resource Management. As I have gone through all my schooling at universities plus schooling at hard knock university in butchering, customer service and business management my original plan has evolved to something bigger than myself. 402 Meat Company is my solution to being in the cattle industry full time and feeding a growing population with shrinking resources. I have chosen to source meat from multiple farmers, not just my farm. By doing this I can make a bigger impact in my community and help serve more people. 

Why 402?

Our speciality - traditional beef!

My vision for 402 Meat Company is to help the best farmers around market their beef on an elevated platform and help consumers feel comfortable and confident when purchasing beef. The goal for 402 Meat Co is to create a label that sets a standard in producing quality beef on a local level. 402 wants the label to set high standards in carcass quality, environmental quality, and humane treatment of animals.