Posts Tagged: beef
The health benefits of grass-fed beef are well documented. Meat from cattle that live out their lives grazing on rangeland before being processed has more beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than the meat from animals finished at feed lots.
The health benefits – and for some consumers, the idea that cattle raised on the range have longer, happier lives than conventional beef cattle – increases the value of the product. Grass-fed beef generally sells for 60 percent more per pound than standard beef. These potential premium prices get cattle ranchers' interest, and therefore captured the attention of UC Cooperative Extension rangeland advisor for Mariposa and Merced counties Fadzayi Mashiri.
Two major challenges face ranchers who wish to produce grass-fed beef: the lack of local processing plants, and the unfamiliar marketing strategies that successfully selling a niche product demands.
“I decided to bring ranchers together to discuss these issues,” Mashiri said. She formed a group that meets regularly in Mariposa County to discuss how they might be able to work as a team to break into the grass-fed beef market. Mashiri sees this project as an opportunity for the ranchers to diversify their sources of income and increase profit margins.
“Farm to fork is getting big,” said Marshall Long, a Mariposa County supervisor and rancher who attended the meeting this fall. “I want to keep those value-added dollars in the county.
Most of the ranchers in the valley and foothill counties of Merced, Mariposa, Madera and Fresno have cow-calf operations. After calves are born on the range, they stay on the land for about a year before being sold at auctions and fed grain or other high-carbohydrate feeds in feedlots. In grass-fed production, yearlings aren't sold, but rather kept on the land for another two years before they are processed.
The meat can be quite different. Grass-fed cattle produce meat with a distinctive flavor, less marbling, and a yellow cast. And, it commands a higher price.
“We have strength in numbers,” Schiff said.
Made in Mariposa is a potential marketing partner, or represents a model for local beef producers to emulate.
“If we think big, how big do we want to be?” Mashiri asked. “Can we work together to relieve individual producers of the pressure of selling on their own?”
The producers concluded that their next step would be a market study to determine whether stores and restaurants would be willing to pay for a ready supply of grass-fed beef. Schiff of Made in Mariposa and Mashiri will identify grant opportunities that would allow the group to move forward with the study.
Under Mashiri's leadership the ranchers will come together again in the spring to continue their planning work together to increase their businesses' bottom lines by diversifying into the production of a specialty meat product.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources experts were able to provide accurate information about the water use on commodities that have been criticized for water consumption during the drought.
The director of UC ANR's Agricultural Issues Center, Daniel Sumner, was one of three guests on the one-hour talk radio program Your Call, which was broadcast on KALW, Local Public Radio in San Francisco. The topic - How would reducing our intake of meat and dairy affect the drought? - was prompted by off-the-cuff comments made by Gov. Jerry Brown in June. Answering the question, "Is part of the drought strategy to reduce meat consumption?" Brown replied, "If you ask me, I think you should be eating veggie burgers."
On the Your Call show, Sumner explained that beef consumption has little impact on the California drought.
"I do want to make clear, when it comes to water embedded in any product, it depends where the water is from," Sumner said. "We feed cattle in California with grain from the Midwest."
Dairy production is another issue. "Dairy cows are fed lots of grain, soybeans and canola coming from Canada and the Midwest, but also silage and alfalfa, much of which is from California. California dairy is a drought water issue. Beef really isn't."
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Dan Putnam appeared on the KTVU Evening News to discuss alfalfa water use with reporter Ken Wayne. Putnam said the drought has hurt the state's alfalfa industry.
"Statewide, it's been fairly devastating," Putnam said. "We're at the lowest acreage we've seen probably since the 1930s."
He also noted the importance of the crop, a key part of dairy cattle's diets.
"An average field of alfalfa produces approximately 2,400 gallons of milk per acre," Putnam said.
Ranchers rely on unirrigated rangeland to feed cattle through the winter. This year, a lack of rain required ranchers to bring in supplemental feed and cull their herds early.
Theresa Becchetti, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Stanislaus County, said much of the grass growth on rangeland has slowed and is going to seed, though there are some grass species still growing that “can take advantage of the rain we have had," Holland reported.
Becchetti and other experts are collecting vegetation samples in the region, which could be used in requests for federal disaster aid.
A UC research station in Yuba County offers a glimpse of what could be found around much of the state, the story said. As of March 1, dry matter in grasses averaged 400 pounds per acre, compared with a historical average of 685 pounds and a high of 1,590 in rainy 1997.
Fresno Bee this weekend. Feed prices have climbed as much as 50 percent since last year, fueled by the increasing demand for corn.
Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center Daniel Sumner told the reporter that rising costs for poultry producers will boost the retail price, unless something else acts to keep prices down.
"So, bottom line," Sumner said, "we should see higher retail prices with these high grain and oilseed prices."
Ranchers beef over obstacles to local meat
Carlos Alcalá, Sacramento Bee
Small ranchers in El Dorado County gathered at a Local Meat Summit in Placerville last week to discuss obstacles to selling their products locally. Meat must be harvested at a USDA-approved facility, and there aren't many of those.
Program representative Sean Kriletich of UC Cooperative Extension in Amador and Calaveras counties is working with ranchers to solve the problem.
"We're trying to work toward getting a USDA-inspected facility for our region," Kriletich said.
If more small ranchers can find a way to sell grass-fed beef locally, it will do more than benefit the farmers, Kriletich said. It will preserve open space for the entire community.
"If people want to keep more land in agriculture, we have to get more money to the producers," said Kriletich, who said he used to run cattle himself, where El Dorado Hills subdivisions now sit.
Beekeepers asking Humboldt cities to loosen regulations on residential hives
Grant Scott-Goforth, The Willits News
A recent change in attitudes toward urban sustainability and education about bee culture spurred the Humboldt County Beekeepers Association to ask the cities of Arcata and Eureka to loosen restrictions on residential beekeeping.
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Deborah Giraud said the risks of keeping bees in residential areas are minimal. ”In general, it's really important to have more honeybees,” Giraud said. “We have a lot of problems with pollination here because of weather. Most calls in here are about fruit trees. And it's a pollination problem.”
UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Deborah Giraud said the risks of keeping bees in residential areas are minimal.
”In general, it's really important to have more honeybees,” Giraud said. “We have a lot of problems with pollination here because of weather. Most calls in here are about fruit trees. And it's a pollination problem.”
Bovine respiratory disease - pneumonia in cattle - is the most significant health problem for the beef industry. The disease annually results in the death of more than 1 million animals. In addition to these losses, beef producers spend a significant sum on disease-related medication and labor costs each year.
According to AgInfo.net, raising cattle for specific resistance to BRD was a hot topic at the Beef Improvement Federation Conference earlier this month in Bozeman, Mont. Attendees learned about research under way at UC Davis to find the genetic component to BRD resistance and, eventually, breed out this deadly disease.
This spring, UC Davis announced that USDA awarded the university $2.6 million to carry out research aimed at reducing the incidence of bovine respiratory disease. The goal of the newly funded research project is to integrate research, education and extension activities to improve diagnostics and develop cost-effective genomic and management approaches that reduce the incidence of the BRD in beef and dairy cattle.
The extension component of the project is headed by Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science. Van Eenennaam made a presentation at the Bozeman conference about the weight cattle producers should be give to BRD resistance when making selection decisions.
Twenty-nine percent of beef cattle deaths are associated with bovine respiratory disease.