As consumers become more concerned and educated about their food, and what their food eats, producing grassfed beef has become a financial lifesaver for many farms and ranches.
While the grassfed beef market has been growing 25-30% in the past several years and brings in a higher price than conventional beef, another label catching consumers’ eyes is ‘Animal Welfare Approved’.
According to Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) standards, beef for example must be raised with the “ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems” while “cloned or genetically engineered animals are prohibited”. This appeals to a growing population that cares about the overall well-being of animals during production and finishing.
Todd and Annette Brown of Farmer Brown have utilized these standards to build a farm in Vermont which began as their home, hobby and family food source that has grown into a business that can’t keep up with local demand of their products.
Farmer Brown produces beef, pork, chicken and eggs. Their beef is grassfed under the American Grassfed Association (AGA) label and their farm is AWA approved, while their pigs and chickens are fed organic grain. Once Todd and Annette started marketing these product features, consumers wanted more.
“Now people are starting to understand that you are eating what the animal eats. People are becoming better educated about their food, to help them stay healthier,” Annette adds.
Farming, of course, is a business and it took some adjusting to find the right selling price for their products. At first, they were charging too little for their meat because they were afraid of overcharging.
Annette enrolled in HMI’s Beginning Women Farmer training program and eagerly went home after each session to share with Todd what she learned through the winter months. The Holistic Management® training she received included Holistic Financial Planning, which helped support the holistic goal of her farm. Annette says, “This helped us get an accurate account of how much we were putting into these animals, to make sure we are getting enough return on our product”.
Together, she and Todd took a closer look at their business and separated all their enterprises. “With the beef, we had to separate out the cow-calf pairs and the finishers. They each had their own individual sections and we needed to see which ones were making money or not. It helped us to see what we were supposed to be doing and where we needed to be headed,” Annette explains.
The Browns currently have 45 acres and lease 40 additional acres but the demand from their conscientious consumers requires a larger farm, so acquiring more land is the next major business move for Farmer Brown. But with their holistic goal to guide them and the right Holistic Management tools, the Browns are better equipped to please their customers while creating more healthy land, healthy food and healthy lives.
A portion of this blog is summarized from IN PRACTICE article “Farmer Brown – Providing Grassfed, Animal Welfare Approved Meat for the Educated Customer” by Heather Smith Thomas, Issue 173, pages 4-5. Read the entire article here.
IN PRACTICE is HMI’s bi-monthly journal for anyone interested in land health, food security and cultivating thriving communities. It’s full of inspiring articles that will keep you in touch with the progress, innovations and excitement generated by people who are changing their lives by putting Holistic Management into practice. Subscriptions begin at only $20/year.
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