Livestock producers can find cyclical commodity markets frustrating, particularly if they only have a few head to market each year. Marketing your meat directly to consumers can often be a profitable solution. Direct marketing eliminates the middleman and in theory, returns additional profit to the farmer. The key to successful direct marketing is to find a niche. So, what’s a niche and how to find one?
A niche is doing something that no one else is doing. There are many different types already being used by direct meat marketers, including organic, grassfed, no antibiotics, humane handling, etc. The increased interest in purchasing local foods gives a large advantage to direct market meat producers. Many consumers desire to know how their meat was raised, what it was fed and how it was handled and are willing to pay for that peace of mind and direct handshake with the farmer.
Selling meat directly includes increased producer attention to marketing, processing, labeling, storage and distribution. Producers interested in direct marketing meat can learn from others through case studies developed by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
The SARE program, is a nationwide grants and education program to advance sustainable innovation to American agriculture. SARE offers competitive grants and educational opportunities for producers, scientists, educators, institutions, organizations and others exploring sustainable agriculture in America’s Midwest.
In addition to funding numerous grant opportunities, SARE also provides a wide range of educational resources. From newsletters profiling funded research to video success stories to books on ag production practices, a wealth of information is available to those interested in sustainable ag practices.
The SARE publication, How to direct market your beef, portrays how one ranching couple used their family’s ranch to launch a profitable, range-based beef operation focused on direct market sales. From slaughtering to packaging, through labeling and advertising, Jan and Will Holder transform their real-life experiences into a compelling narrative rich with practical tips. Additional case studies are included from direct market entrepreneurs.
To find the book and other resources for small farmers, visit www.northcentralsare.org.