Courtesy of Grass-Fed Revolution
A number of American cattle families are throwing in their branding irons, either selling off their land or planting crops. While the price of beef is at record highs, the cost of doing business for some is impossible.
"Although revenues are up, expenses are increasing just as fast or even faster," said Kevin Kester, president of the California Cattlemen’s Association. The cost in California is especially high because land is pricey and scarce, he said.
"… in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas, about 200,000 more cattle were slaughtered this year, a 20 percent increase over last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that beef prices will increase up to 5.5 in 2012, in part because the number of cattle has declined. That follows a 9 percent increase in beef prices in the past year.
Anderson said beef production nationally will be down 4 percent next year.
Across Texas, the drought has caused an estimated $5.2 billion in losses to farmers and livestock producers, and that figure is expected to rise.
"Even when I decided to sell the meat retail, it took a few years to get the supply chain going, to find someone to process the cattle and to dry age them. That’s especially hard when you’re small. When they go into that processing plant, the only cattle they handle are ours. You’ll notice on the container on the meat you’ll see the ear tag number, so you can go directly to that animal if there was ever anything wrong…
Closed heard means that we don’t buy any cattle from the outside. Everything we have we raise here on the ranch, we don’t augment with other animals. We’ve had it this way for 25 to 30 years. It means we have a certain genetic core we’re after, and we think it’s more tender meat, but it also means we can pass on only the good traits. We don’t have the bad strains of e.coli, we don’t have mad cow disease problems, so it’s also a way to keep new diseases out of the herd…
With grass, every cut tastes different. You take a New York steak, a chuck and a cheek with grass-fed and each cut from each individual animal will tastes different, depending on the grass they ate. It’s a lot like wine because you’ve got all of these different soils that the grass feed is coming from. You can take the same rootstock of grapevines and plant each in different soil and each wine will taste different. That’s what happens with grass-fed beef…
The problem for us is that right now we go to a place in Oregon, which is the only place that is approved where we can butcher. There’s one in Santa Paula, but it’s not USDA approved, so we can’t use it. For us, that means if we don’t freeze the meat, we’d never be able to bring it down to L.A. You just can’t find the plants that you need with the quality control to bring a fresh product if you’re small like us. I’d love it. I’d put it in a refrigerator truck and bring it down to L.A., but right now I don’t know where I’d be able to do that. Some day, we’ll hopefully be able to do that. But right now, frozen is so much better than not doing it at all with all the problems we have with feed lot cattle. Someone’s got to start making the change. Somehow.”
"At the Novy Ranches grass-fed Angus beef stands that have been popping up at various farmers markets the past few months — Topanga, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks and several others) — you’ll find an assortment of steaks, roasts and ground beef, as well as plenty of “off” cuts like oxtail, beef cheeks, tongue, the heart and liver.”
"When I first came to Argentina [when cattle were still grown on the pampas grasslands, and not feedlots], I said, ‘This is what beef is supposed to taste like!’ Now, it’s just steak," Perlman says.
Beef from grass-fed animals has lower levels of unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef also has lower levels of dietary cholesterol and offers more vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants. The study found that meat from animals raised entirely on grass also had about twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, isomers, which may have cancer fighting properties and lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems.