Steve and Becky Collins have a ranch in Jack County and are looking for a way to increase their marginal revenue. They’ve been considering direct marketing of their beef.
But they had many questions and a lot of research to do.
While attending the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Convention earlier this year, they listened to a short, direct marketing program by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., economist, and Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., agricultural law specialist, both with the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics in Amarillo.
It was enough to make them know that attending the daylong “Where’s the Beef? Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales Businesses” AgriLife Extension program in Amarillo would be a drive worth making.
The program included Benavidez, Lashmet and Jade Cooper, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension meat specialist in the Texas A&M Department of Animal Sciences, and a panel of producers already marketing their beef.
The “Where’s the Beef?” program is hosted by AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics and funded by Southern Risk Management Education Center and Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
More than 50 people registered for the Amarillo program. At least 20 of them reported already being involved in direct beef sales but were looking for more guidance. Attendees came from as far away as East Texas, far West Texas and eastern New Mexico. In their exit evaluations, all said they would recommend the program to a friend.
The program will be repeated in Brenham on Aug. 26. To register, go to https://tx.ag/DSBeefAug26. Lashmet and Benavidez advise registering early, as the Amarillo event filled up fast, and there will be limited seating in Brenham.
Learning more about direct beef sales
Steve Collins said they started out low on the learning curve and definitely needed more information to evaluate upsides and pitfalls of direct beef sales and marketing.
“What this program offers us is a knowledge base and method of evaluating whether and how to begin direct beef sales,” Steve Collins said about the program.
“By attending this meeting, we hear not only from the speakers but also from other participants who have experience in direct beef sales,” Becky Collins said. “That has been very valuable.”
The program included representatives of 111 Beef Republic, which specializes in grain-finished beef in Bridgeport; Foote Family Meats, which sells frozen beef available for nationwide shipping or local pick up in Clovis, New Mexico; and Bell Road Beef, raising beef in Clayton, New Mexico, and shipping directly to customers.
Lashmet added that the three producer panel members who participated in the program provided extremely helpful insights to participants.
“I don’t think there is anything more valuable than getting to hear from people actually doing the thing,” she said.
From grazing cattle to beef cuts
The couple said they know even if they started today, it would take a year or more before they would have any sales. The “Where’s the Beef?” program covered many aspects they would need to consider before opening for business.
During the program, the speakers touch on a wide variety of topics useful in developing a direct-to-consumer beef marketing business.
Cooper focuses on the process of converting a harvested beef animal into specific products, consumer preferences for different beef products, and some of the attributes of live animals and production processes that impact beef quality.
Lashmet breaks down the importance of harvest facility selection, outlines the licenses required for different sales methods and highlights the importance of liability protection.
Benavidez discusses budgets for different parts of the business, including the costs and benefits of different strategies. He also provides an update on market expectations for the future.
Attendees receive a free hardback book that accompanies the training. And a downloadable version of the book will be available next month on Benavidez’ Amarillo AgEcon blog or Lashmet’s Texas Agriculture Law blog for those who have not attended the program.