Facilitating the Multifunctional Potential of Goat Enterprises

Betty L. Wells, Professor, Sociology


Nationally, the demand for goat meat outstrips the domestic supply. Demand is also growing in Iowa. Growing markets promise increased income streams for producers who choose to diversify by adding goats to their farming systems. Goat browsing also offers a non-chemical, non-mechanical alternative for controlling invasive vegetation and thereby enhancing pasture and prairie. The lack of Iowa-specific information about the particulars of the goat meat market led me to investigate the market potential for goat meat among recent immigrants in the Sioux City area. In a complementary project, I have collaborated with Agren, Inc. of Carroll, IA in a feasibility study of the rural development benefits of goat browsing to control invasive vegetation in the Loess Hills. The two projects are linked geographically in the Loess Hills and by the potential markets for goat meat in the Sioux City and Council Bluffs/Omaha urban areas.


From the consumer side, to provide detailed information about the market for goat meat among recent Latino/a, Asian, and Muslim immigrants to Sioux City area; from the producer side, to identify the barriers to raising goats and marketing goat meat.


3 listening sessions
2 case studies of goat meat producers (one direct marketing and one marketing conventionally)
2 focus groups (combined with sampling goat meat dishes)
4 surveys at farmers’ markets and ethnic celebrations.
2 field days featuring goat browsing (with Agren, Inc. as lead partner)
2 project advisory committees have brought together goat meat producers and consumers


Identified specific consumer preferences by groups of varying national origins, and ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well by demographics such as income level and rural or urban roots.

Identified barriers to the increased production and marketing of goat meat including inadequate meat processing infrastructure; production/technical system unknowns ranging from fencing and watering to parasite control; and the reluctance of most Iowans of longer term residence, and of northern European background to eat goat meat.

Growing interest in goat meat and the potential of goats as browsers.

Impacts, yet to be realized, are potentially significant not only for producers, landowners and consumers. The prospects for rural development (economic and non-market) in enhanced cross cultural communication through direct marketing, economic benefit deriving from a strengthened infrastructure for processing goat meat, and the ecological benefits of increased goat browsing.

147 - Sustainable Agriculture

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