A team of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts recently received two awards from Extension Risk Management Education, ERME, for their work on the “Where’s the Beef? Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales” project related to direct meat sales.

The agency’s Where’s the Beef? team won the ERME 2024 Outstanding Project Award – Southern Region in addition to the Project of Excellence First Place Award from the University of Arkansas System for this project, which provided cattle producers with comprehensive, practical information on how to sell beef directly to the consumer.

The awards were presented at the 2024 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference held April 9-11 in Salt Lake City. Conference attendees included educators, crop insurance agents, lenders and other agricultural professionals wanting to learn about how to help agricultural producers effectively manage the variety of risks associated with their operations.

About Extension Risk Management Education

A man and a woman shake hands as he presents her with an award. The woman, Casey Matzke, right, is wearing a dark jacket and blue jeans. The man is wearing a tan sweater and dark pants. There is a sing next to them that says Welcome to Salt Lake City!
Where’s the Beef? team member Casey Matzke, right, accepts one of the two awards presented to the team at the 2024 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference in Salt Lake City. (Texas A&M AgriLife)

Extension Risk Management Education is delivered through four regional centers that provide grant funding and leadership. Projects funded through ERME are producer-focused and based on measurable outcomes that will help producers manage their risk related to weather, yields, prices, government policies, global economies, human factors and other conditions that can cause fluctuations in farm income.

The Southern Risk Management Education Center, SMERC, at the University of Arkansas highlights outstanding extension outreach programs. Projects funded by SMERC focus on enhancing farmer behavior and knowledge through risk management education, helping them manage risk through exceptional program delivery and evaluation.

“We were surprised and excited to learn we had won these awards from ERME,” said team member Tiffany Lashmett, J.D., AgriLife Extension specialist for agricultural law in the Department of Agricultural Economics based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Amarillo. “What began a few years ago with Scott Strawn, our AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Ochiltree County, looking for information about direct beef sales for some Panhandle producers, has turned into a one-of-a-kind program that has grown more than the team ever could have anticipated.”

Initially, Strawn asked Lashmet and Justin Benevidez, Ph.D., previously in the Department of Agricultural Economics, to give a presentation on legal and economic issues surrounding direct beef sales. From there, the project snowballed.  

“We had not worked on direct beef sales to this point, but we immediately knew this was a really hot topic for which there was virtually no information in the legal and economic realm for producers,” Lashmet said. “What began as that single county meeting has now turned into three grant awards, live programs, a video series and an online course. This project truly was a team effort.”

About the team and its beefy work

Cover of the Where's the Beef? handbook on direct beef sales. It features three cows and the title Where's The Beef? and the subtitle Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales.
The “Where’s the Beef? Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales” handbook was a major component of the team’s project work. (Texas A&M AgriLife)

Along with Lashmet, Benavidez and Strawn, the team was comprised of Casey Matzke, a project manager in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Lacrecia Garza, administrative associate at the Amarillo center.

“Dr. Benavidez and I received a grant from the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center to co-author a handbook for beef producers interested in direct beef sales that would address the legal and economic issues facing this business model,” Lashmet said. “Then the team participated in programs around the state to present this information.”

The handbook, “Where’s the Beef? Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales,” is a 100-page, one-of-a-kind publication that provides detailed information for practical use by cattle producers and operations. 

Once the handbook was complete, the team presented multiple live programs in Fort Worth, Amarillo, Brenham, Conroe and Decatur. More than 700 people attended these workshops, which included topics such as labeling, licensing, budgeting, price-setting, risk management, storage and shipment.  

Lashmet said demand for the information developed for the Where’s the Beef? project has continued to increase and the team has received numerous requests for programs from AgriLife Extension county agents around the state. To meet that demand, the team is developing an online course and will host an in-person program in Bonham Nov. 22. 

“Being able to reach over 700 producers at live programs and hundreds more with the handbook has been extremely rewarding,” Lashmet said. “The team looks forward to working together to develop new ways to get this information into the hands of even more Texas beef producers.”

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