BEEF It Up!
Beef cattle are a common sight in the Ozarks. It’s nearly impossible to drive through any rural community without seeing at least a few stocky beef cows grazing alongside the road. Missouri ranks third in the nation for beef cattle production with 4.25 million head of cattle on 59,000 operations, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Only Texas and Oklahoma have a higher number of statewide cattle. With such impressive numbers on their side, it is no wonder that Missouri cattlemen and women take such pride in raising and advocating for beef animals – and you can too by just remembering BEEF.
Be active in organizations such as the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. The MCA has been proactive in advocating beef since 1911, and they have remained one of the best resources available for beef producers. In fact, their mission statement is that the organization is “Dedicated to advancing Missouri’s beef industry.” The MCA offers numerous workshops and presentations that allow beef producers to become more educated on the subject that is near and dear to their hearts. MCA also partners with the Beef Quality Assurance Program, another great beef advocate organization, to help improve cattle handling standards and encourage responsible management practices that benefit both the cattle and the consumer.
Educate your consumers about your beef – especially if you direct market your product.
“It is important to promote our beef because of the health benefits of it, educating potential customers as to why we do what we do and how we do it,” said Kirk Welch, sales and marketing manager for Black Gate Farms, LLC in Vanzant, Mo., that s raises Red Devon cattle, a unique beef breed with a rich history. Welch said the history behind the Red Devon cattle makes a great lead in to encouraging folks to try their organic beef. “Being one of the first breeds brought over with the Pilgrims and the breed’s history with the Royal Family gives us a great opportunity to explain the wonderful health benefits.”
Encourage young people to get involved with the beef industry.
The MCA supports growing the number of youth in the beef industry through their Junior Leadership Conference, where young people learn ways to promote the beef industry and agriculture both on and off the farm. Encouraging your child to participate in their local 4-H or FFA chapter is an outstanding way to not only teach them to be an advocate of beef, but also gives them an opportunity to educate others. Local producers are doing their part as well to foster a love of beef within their communities.
“Promoting beef in a positive way keeps a high quality protein available to consumers, and stimulates interest in young producers to continue this industry,” said Tom Landers of Landers Lean Meats in Dadeville, Mo., which raises Red and Black Angus cattle.
Find unique ways to keep beef on the table.
With so many niche markets out there, producers can advocate beef to a wide variety of people. Farmers markets, local health food stores, grocery stores and restaurants are all good venues to promote your product. Letting folks taste the goodness of beef is another way to keep demand up and the industry strong.
“Our main market strategy is to grill our products, mainly hamburger, to sample to the consumer,” Kirk Welch said. “We find sampling, along with cooking instructions, allows us to get products in the consumer’s mouths that is properly cooked and seasoned, and increases our sales dramatically.”