Commitment in Farming
“Why do we get to eat this sweet energy-filled brassica while others are in the regular pasture,” one Angus asked his mate. “Something about butchering, whatever that is,” the other replied.
1.One commitment we have to you is to provide flavor and tenderness in grass-finished beef, so we rotate in and out of carbohydrate-rich annual grass for 4-6 weeks before butchering for maximum marbling. We just finished two Angus, and now we’re pasturing 3 Angus in the brassicas and millet greens for a September-October butchering. (Two are already sold. Our grandson Jacob invested some of his money into ‘stocks,’ well into one Angus.]
“My foot hurts!” one Angus steer said as he limped across the field. “Foot rot,” the Vet said, so that Angus is on antibiotics, waiting to get better.
2. We are committed to animal welfare and will give antibiotics when absolutely necessary, but we will never pass on that steer to customers even after the “slaughter withdrawal date.” We will probably sell that steer at auction.
We thank you, our customer, for your commitment to our farm. When either our commitment or your commitment fails, the farm fails. We want to be here long-term for the health and well-being of interested people. We are thankful we gained two new customers, especially since two customers recently moved out of the area—to PA and to FL. Tell us if you know anyone who might be interested in flavorful beef for their freezer.
3. We are committed to Honest Labeling and raising the best beef for you. While you might see the ‘grass-fed’ label on packaging from others’ beef, please know that not all beef is the same. BEWARE!— for foreign beef can legally be labeled as ‘Product of USA.’ This is causing the local grass-fed market to decline. The “certified grass-fed” label is gold standard, but foreign countries might define their own meaning. Imported grass-fed beef is not a better product; it’s simply cheaper. It could be anywhere from a 700-pound calf up to a 14-year-old cow. Some are supplemented with grain, some are grass-finished—a wide array of meaning.
*In 2015, the Obama administration rolled back the Country of Labeling (COOL) regulation, mudding the waters. The elimination of COOL for meat caused the local grass-fed market to decline from 60% to 15% in just a few years. Advocacy groups are fighting back.
Because of COOL, foreign companies can pass their imported beef as ‘American’ which has made fair competition impossible. Grocery-store labeled ‘Product of USA’ is deceptive. Trader Joe’s meat is processed in USA in California, but on the back of the package of their “grass-fed” ground meat, in fine print, the label says ‘Product of USA, Australia, and Uruguay.”
Bubba Foods (Florida), sold by WalMart, Kroger, Wegmans, labels their grass-fed beef as “Product of USA” in a prominent banner with an American flag. The fine print again refers to Australia.
*Based on research by Coalition for a Prosperous America, a non-profit organization, article July 16, 2018. https://www.prosperousamerica.org/foreign_beef_can_legally_be_labeled_product_of_u_s_a_it_s_killing_america_s_grass_fed_industry?fbclid=IwAR1KmQuwtV_TJ2C4x4bApgm9dHOj_kfamAjZugTDPYoXVkMvqZXI-2gXwhc
Domestic grass-fed/finished beef generally come from smaller family farm operations that are regulated more by satisfied and returning customers than by external organizations and government agencies.