Food production is a financially constrained business. Cattle prices are set based on the lowest cost producers. You don’t want to eat product from the lowest cost producer. It’s not the healthiest for your body and it does not provide money to care for and improve the land.
Support our summer beef campaign.
- Our goal to sell 40 finished animals this year for an average price of $2200 per animal. We also aim to sell around 20 older animals for ground beef for another $18,000 in revenue. That would give us around $108,000 in revenue that we use to care for 900 acres of West Sonoma County land while producing 18,000 pounds of local grass fed beef. It supports 4 people working part time running the business, it supports tree planting and stream restoration, it supports careful grazing that stores carbon in the soil and it supports our efforts to share our stories with the community through tours, social media, videos and our web site. It’s not a lot of money in the content of our local economy. After expenses, we have around 1/3 of our revenue to pay our team. So for $40,000, our community gets the passionate effort of 4 people producing food and caring for the land. Our best case revenue is a fraction of the $400,000 a dairy might produce on this land, and even tinier fraction of the $3,000,000 a vineyard might produce on this land. However, unlike more intense uses of the land, with our grazing the insects, rodents, raptors, rabbits, foxes, bobcats, swallows, blackbirds, frogs, newts, ducks and people who eat from the land all share the rewards of our work.
- We cut our price by 25% this spring to be able to reach more people with our beef.
- We could sell our animals into the industrial food supply chain or to larger local producers, but we would get about half as much money per animal and with fixed expenses of $60,000, that leaves us no money to pay the people doing the work to care for the animals and the land.
- We believe that there is value in local beef and local landcare. We are not sales people, supply chain managers or professional marketers. We are grazers and tenders of the land. We would prefer to focus on caring for the land and animals and let professionals market and sell our beef, but the reality is that there is no meaningful price premium for beef that is produced in ways that are healthy for the land and people. Under current USDA rules beef that is produced on former rainforest land in Brazil can be sold as a product of the USA in local store. Market forces from large corporations, foreign imports combined and high local processing costs have pushed the wholesale price of local healthy grass fed cattle down to roughly the same price we can get selling our animals at auction to supply our nation’s feedlot system. Or that a rancher is Brazil is paid for cattle raised on former rain forest.
- To continue our work and land care we need to sell our beef to our local community for a fair price. To feel successful we need to share our lessons, successes and failures with our community so as a culture we can all believe that caring for our ecosystems is possible and worthwhile.