The six-figure profit is there for the local grass-fed beef middleman.
I’d heard recently about Joel Salatin moving over to part-ownership in a local abattoir. A logical extension, but the reason was in the management, not vertical integration. He simply had to protect that end of the production line.
This article does point out that for anyone wanting some real profit, it’s in the middle, not the farmer nor the supermarket. Grass fed beef at retail brings roughly twice what conventional commodity beef is, sometimes far more.
From my experience, farmers are happy to simply get a guaranteed auction/commodity price per live animal. But read down to the bottom. This guy can’t get enough beef to supply his clientele. And it’s a USDA inspected abattoir, meaning they can sell their parts direct instead of by wholes, halves, and quarters.
Figure out of the cost of grass fed beef, the farmer is taking a third, the middleman taking two-thirds. And that is just for hamburger. The whole animal can bring as much as $3,000 – so your farmer is getting roughly $800 of that and the middleman can rake in $2,200 per animal.
Can you say “six-figure income”?
Access to an abattoir was tough even for Joel Salatin <http://voices.washingtonpost.com/mighty-appetite/2008/07/a_day_at_polyface_farm.html> of Polyface Inc., a high-profile farmer thanks to his role in Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” He had relied on T&E to process the cattle and pigs he raises on his farm near Staunton, but it became clear several years ago that the owners would soon retire. “It was absolutely our weakest link,” Salatin said. He paraded many potential buyers through the 70-year-old plant, but said “it took a lot of hooks in the water before I got a bite.”
Cloud was a good prospect because love of food and wine runs in his family. His brother Roy Cloud runs Vintage ’59 Imports <http://www.vintage59.com/home.php> , a French wine importer in the District. After his father’s plans to start a vineyard on farmland near Staunton were thwarted by an accident, Cloud began helping his mother manage the farm. Soon, he was wondering whether to trade his office in Seattle for a herd of cattle in Virginia.
Salatin, who was leasing a few of their fields, proposed that Cloud buy the slaughterhouse instead. “You certainly don’t have the allure of the country life in a slaughterhouse, the kind of thing sought out by the weekend farmer,” said Salatin. “But processing plants and distribution are the two biggest hurdles in the local food movement.” Cloud eventually agreed, sinking 40 percent of his retirement savings into the deal and signing up his mother, Helen, and Salatin as partners. They bought the plant in July 2008, and Cloud has been pulling 50- to 60-hour weeks ever since, managing a workforce of 20 and fielding calls from restaurants and farmers.
T&E now processes meat for more than 100 farms, up from just a handful before the sale. The number of animals he slaughters has shot up 70 percent — during the worst recession since the 1930s. Cloud sells local beef, pork, lamb and poultry out of T&E Meats’ store, but unlike Blue Ridge, he can’t make the business work without buying some beef from the Midwest and pigs from Pennsylvania.
He can’t get enough locally, nor can he sell it at a price his longtime customers are used to paying. “For 40 years it was the cheapest place in town,” says Salatin. “Now we’re trying to make it the best.” T&E, for example, sells conventional ground beef for $2.67 a pound. The local ground beef, from animals without antibiotics or hormones, goes for $3.50 a pound, and local grass-fed beef runs $3.99 a pound.
Cloud is putting every dollar he makes back into the business, expanding into poultry processing this year and hoping to grow again in 2011.
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Savannah Morning News
Names: Debra and Del FergusonJobs: Owners and cattle farmers, Hunter Cattle Co. in Brooklet What they do: As owners and cattle farmers with their business, Hunter Cattle Co., the Fergusons make it their mission to …
GILEAD, Ohio – Ohio livestock producers are exploring grass-fed beef production to meet market demands for what many consider to be a healthful and ecologically sustainable product. However, the production side of the system can be …
by Richard Nikoley
I recently got an email from a reader asking that if grassfed beef was out of the question budget wise, whether a paleo dietary style still ought to include meat. Of course, a resounding yes. I think that most people will gravitate to …
I highly recommend this if you enjoy beef but may be avoiding it because of saturated fat worries. If you search online you will discover grass fed beef is lower in saturated fat 35-65% to its grain fed counterparts and …
by Annie Corrigan
Earth Eats’ Annie Corrigan talks with Jim Fiedler, the man behind Fiedler Farms, about grass-fed beef and his return to Indiana after 20 years in New York City.
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Red-braised Beef with bamboo
1.1 – 1.3 kg beef for stewing
5 cm piece of fresh ginger
2 spring onions
3 T peanut oil
6 T chili bean paste (from pixian)
1 litre beef/game stock
4 T Shaoxing ricewine
2 t dark soy sauce
2 t whole Sichuan pepper
1 star anise
1 cao guo
salt, to taste
Blanch the beef in boiling water for a minute or two until scum has risen to the surface, then remove the meat and rinse it under the tap. Cut the beef into 3-4 cm chunks. Crush the ginger slightly. Cut the spring onions into 2 or 3 sections.
Heat the oil in a flat-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. When it is hot, add the chili bean paste and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until the oil is red and richly fragrant. Add the stock, the beef, the wine, the ginger, the spring onions, the soy sauce, and the spices. Bring the liquid to the boil, skim if necessary, then turn the heat down and simmer gently until the beef is beautifully tender. This will depend on which cut of beef you are using, but it should be at least 2 hours. (if using a crockpot, longer)
This time I added this special kind of fresh bamboo shoots that needs some time to cook. I’ve sliced them up and added them half an hour before the end of the cooking time.
Although I liked it, I was also a little bit disappointed. It wasn’t that spicy and I couldn’t taste much of the sichuan peppercorns. Maybe I was expecting it to taste more like the “water boiled beef”. But once you’ve accepted that is still is a very nice stew and I actually think it would be served best with mash potatoes!
What I would do differently next time: not use the pixian douban jiang but the one from Lee Kum Kee. I would increase the other ingredients like ginger, sichuan peppercorns, etc. And I would leave out the cao guo. I just don’t think I like that taste. Maybe I need to get used to it, but for now I give up.
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Many thanks to Fotoos VanRobin