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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

NEW MARKET STUDY OUTLINES POTENTIAL FOR U.S. GRASSFED BEEF

Consumer demand rising; continued growth depends on accurate labeling, education and year-round availability of high-quality product from American farmers

Pocantico Hills, NY (April 19, 2017) – Triggered by explosive growth in the U.S. grassfed beef market, a new study finds an urgent need for accurate labeling to ensure that consumers are getting what they think they are buying, including the humane treatment of animals and environmental and health benefits. The study follows on the heels of recent consumer demands for improved practices, including cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free meat.

The study reveals that much of the meat sold in the United States as “grassfed” is from cattle raised in enclosed environments, where they are fed grass pellets in “grass feedlots,” rather than grazed on healthy pastures. “The U.S. market for grassfed beef has grown at 100 percent per year for the past four years, yet consumers don’t realize that much of this beef is coming from cattle that haven’t actually spent the whole of their lives on open pasture, eating real grass,” said Jill Isenbarger, CEO of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, one of the partners behind the study.

“Back to Grass: The Market Potential for U.S. Grassfed Beef” offers a comprehensive look at the U.S. grassfed beef sector, with a focus on market and economic dynamics. It bridges the gaps that currently exist between the USDA’s data on grassfed beef production prices and the pockets of information held by private sector organizations.

Among its findings: The price of grassfed beef could come down significantly if the industry were to establish well-managed grass-finishing operations that take advantage of economies of scale in processing, distribution and marketing. But these operations must be based on high standards for the humane treatment of animals and for land and water stewardship.

“We need a stronger standard for grassfed beef so that consumers know what they’re buying,” said Bill Niman, founder and president of BN Ranch. “Producers who follow best practices stand to earn a premium, but we need to first iron out the inconsistencies and confusion.” Currently a number of labels and standards confuse the marketplace and the consumer, as they conflate excellent management practices with poor ones.

The report brings together available data on the current state of the grassfed beef sector, identifies barriers to growth and highlights actions that will help propel further expansion. It examines whether grassfed beef can scale up to the point where it could displace a significant portion of the conventional, grain-fed beef system in the United States.

With input from one of the world’s leading chefs, the report also takes on some misconceptions about taste. “Grassfed beef has a taste that’s clean and rich, and undeniably beefy,” said Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, ranked among the top 50 restaurants in the world. “It’s flat-out wrong to believe grassfed beef is chewy or dry. It’s not, if it’s prepared right. And whereas a grain-fed steak tastes the same whether it’s raised in New York or New Mexico, grassfed beef tastes different based on the pasture the cattle were eating—which means it varies by farm and even time of year.”

The report was produced through a collaboration of Stone Barns Center, Armonia LLC, Bonterra Partners and SLM Partners. On April 19, Stone Barns Center hosted a one-day summit to introduce the overarching benefits of grassfed beef to more than 100 chefs and beef purchasers and retailers from around the country—people who have the ability to influence the development of a more robust market for grassfed beef in the United States.

Read the report online here.

For more information, contact:
Martha Hodgkins
Communications Director
434.249.9907
marthah@stonebarnscenter.org

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a nonprofit organization working to advance sustainable agriculture and create a culture of eating that can support it. In our quest to change the way America eats and farms, we train farmers, educate food citizens, convene change makers and experiment with agroecological farming practices. stonebarnscenter.org

Armonia LLC is a certified B-Corp with a mission to restore harmony through long-term investments. armoniallc.com

Bonterra Partners is an investment consulting firm specializing in sustainable agriculture and other natural capital investments. bonterrapartners.com

SLM Partners is an investment management firm that focuses on ecological farming systems. slmpartners.com

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

What We've Learned From Compost

What We’ve Learned From Compost

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Our compost piles will age for at least a year before being added to the garden. We have learned that the slow aging is more beneficial to the decomposition process as well as not losing nearly as much nitrogen to off-gassing as happens with the hot and fast methods. Another benefit is the decomposition is much more thorough, destroying weed seeds, pathogens and any unwanted chemicals much better in a slower composting setup.

Farm Manure

Farm Manure

Naturally there is great variation in manure according to the animals it is made by, the feeding and bedding material, and the manner in which it is kept. Different analyses naturally shows different results and the tables here given serve only as a guide or index to the various kinds. The manure heap, by the way, is no place for old tin cans, bottles, glass, and other similar waste material.

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes

This is the account of how one farm put more horse power into the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of its potato crop. Ever since we began farming on our own in 1994 one of our principle aims has been the conversion of our farm operation to live horse power wherever feasible. This has meant replacing mechanized tools such as tractors and rototillers and figuring out how to reduce human labor as we expanded upon the labor capacity of our work horses.

Starting Seeds

From Dusty Shelves: A WWII era article from Farming For Security

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

Cabbage

Cabbage

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Cabbage is the most important vegetable commercially of the cole crops, which include cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, collard, broccoli, and many others. It also ranks as one of the most important of all vegetable crops and is universally cultivated as a garden, truck and general farm crop. The market for cabbage, like that for potatoes, is continuous throughout the year, and this tends to make it one of the staple vegetables.

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

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There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Lost Apples

Lost Apples

The mindboggling agricultural plant and animal diversity, at the beginning of the twentieth century, should have been a treasure trove which mankind worked tirelessy to maintain. Such has not been the case. Alas, much has been lost, perhaps forever. Here are images and information on a handful of apple varieties from a valuable hundred year old text in our library.

Beating the Beetles – War & Peace in a Houston Garden

Blooming that is, unless the cucumber beetles arrive first.
And arrive they have … “At first I thought they looked like big, yellow lady bugs.” Paul said, “Then I looked…

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

For those not familiar with this tasty, nutritious weed, purslane can be a real challenge to manage in vegetable crops for a number of reasons. The seeds of this weed remain viable for many years in the garden, and generally do not germinate until hot weather — that is, after many of the market garden crops have already been planted. To make matters worse, this succulent plant often reroots after cultivation. Purslane also grows so close to the ground that it is impossible to control by mowing.

Apple Cider Autumns Nectar

Apple Cider, Autumn’s Nectar

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While autumn’s beauty is food for our souls, autumn’s harvest provides food for our tables. Along with the many hours and days of canning and freezing our garden produce, harvest time also means apple cider making for our family. We have been making apple cider, or sweet cider as it is commonly called, for six years. Beginning slowly, the demand for our juice has resulted in a production of over six hundred gallons this year.

Asparagus in Holland

Asparagus in Holland

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The asparagus culture in Holland is for the majority white asparagus, grown in ridges. This piece of land used to be the headland of the field. The soil was therefore compact, and a big tractor came with a spader, loosening the soil. After that I used the horse for the lighter harrowing and scuffle work to prevent soil compaction. This land lies high for Dutch standards and has a low ground water level, that is why asparagus can grow there, which can root 3 foot deep over the years.

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Gardening

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Raised beds may not be right for everyone, and our way is not the only way. I have seen raised beds made from rows of 5’ diameter kiddy pools, and heard of a fellow who collected junk refrigerators from the dump and lined them up on their backs into a rainbow of colored enameled steel raised beds. Even rows of five-gallon pails filled with plants count as raised beds in my estimation. Do it any way you care to, but do it if it’s right for you.

Low Tillage Radish Onions

Low Tillage Radish Onions

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The radishes came up quick, filling the garden canopy completely that fall, and the following spring we found the plot was clean of weeds and rows of open holes were left where the radish roots had been growing. Well, we had a few extra onion plants that spring and decided to plant them in these holes, since we already had very clear lines laid out for us and a clean seedbed. What we got were the best looking onions that have ever come out of our gardens.

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT