Heart of AG: Exploring New Ways to Succeed in the Beef Cattle Business
Earlier this month, I spoke at the New York Beef Producers Association Annual Convention.
It was a pleasure to kick off the year with this wonderful group of passionate beef cattle producers, and I am still thinking about the information presented by my fellow speakers, the fellowship we enjoyed together as a group and the inspiration gained from visiting with others who are finding pathways to success in this industry we love.
In my presentation, I shared examples of ways producers are being innovative, pivoting their business models, connecting and serving their customers, all while leading with positivity in their communities.
As an example, as I travel this great country, I’ve met first-generation farmers with small acreages, who are leveraging every inch of soil they have with profitable pursuits. Whether it’s selling beef at farm stands or creating $80 bottles of beef tallow skincare products, the creativity of producers, with no will to quit, is a never-ending flow of inspiration to me.
Last week, I attended a live beef auction in Texas. Hosted by Texas Beefhouse, it was a packed house for an evening of fun and fellowship, as community members gathered to bid on beef and even more tuned in online to try to buy their favorite cuts.
In 90 minutes, the ranching family sold 1,350 pounds of beef and drummed up $36,000 plus in revenue.
And, even better was seeing the reactions – women giggling while enjoying a girlsʼ night out and squealing when their $100 per pound bid was the winner on a tomahawk steak, men giving each other fist bumps when they had the winning bid on New York strips and so much love from the crowd as they celebrated this hard-working ranching family.
What an honor it was to be there and witness it. It gave me hope there is more like this to come.
As producers, any time we can get closer to the people we aim to serve is a victory. However, it doesn’t come without its fair set of challenges, hurdles, hiccups and roadblocks.
There’s much to learn before selling beef to the public – regulatory red tape, inspections, location of processing facility, the robustness of a local food market or access to urban consumers, packaging, shipping, marketing, pricing, consistent product availability, customer service and the list goes on.
Producers tell me we’ve got to fix the system. It’s unfair.
Producers are leaving the cattle business in droves. We lose 1,300 cow/calf producers each year, and we’ve lost 75 percent of family feedlots in the last 20 years.
Four major players control 85 percent of the marketplace, and I completely agree with folks – there’s much to be fixed about the state of the current U.S. beef cattle industry as it stands today.
However, I’m not going to hold my breath any politician is going to truly fix what ails our beef cattle industry or correct corruption in the system.
So, while we fight the big fights for the betterment of our industry in the long haul, we must also ask how we survive now, in the short term.
How do we innovate, pivot, connect, serve and lead with positivity in such a way we add value to our rural communities and strengthen our own businesses for generations to come?
The answer won’t be the same for everybody, but it’s been exciting to watch those who have stepped out of the norm and have entered into new markets where they are capturing more of the dollar from every pound of beef sold.
May we all be inspired to explore new pathways which could ultimately lead to greater success. It may not be what the neighbors are doing or what great-grandpa would have done when he established the ranch, but it may be exactly what an operation needs now to infuse some cash into the operation and generate more income for the family to live on.
Cheers to a year of creative entrepreneurs raising cattle, selling beef and setting the new industry standard for ways to thrive during these uncertain times.
Amanda Radke is a rancher, author, motivational speaker and podcast host. For more from Radke, visit amandaradke.com.