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NMSU Extension publication focuses on direct sale of beef to customers

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an abrupt and dynamic change in how food reaches the consumer’s dinner table.


Cowboy herding calves
New Mexico State University has released a Cooperative Extension Service publication titled “Selling Meat Direct to Consumers from the Ranch and Farm.” (NMSU photo)

Grocery store meat sections are frequently bare or offering very slim selections. Shoppers are sometimes left wondering how to replenish their family’s supply of this protein source.

While the shelves are bare, ranchers and farmers are experiencing low prices for their livestock at the sale barn, as the supply chain is impacted by changes in the market.

As an engine for economic development, New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is providing research-based information on ways consumers and producers can navigate this crisis.

NMSU Cooperative Extension Service has published a new guide, “Selling Meat Direct to Consumers from the Ranch and Farm” that provides alternative ways for producers to market beef cattle.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, restaurants and food service companies represented approximately 54 percent of food consumed in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“In the immediate aftermath of the epidemic outbreak, with closure of restaurant businesses and school meal services, bulk product deliveries dropped by an estimated 60 percent,” said Craig Gifford, NMSU Extension beef cattle specialist and co-author of the publication.

“Meat processors have been unable to adapt quickly to the change in demand for smaller packaging and increased delivery to retail outlets. As a result, meat shelves have become bare in some areas.”

To compound the issue, several large processing facilities have been closed due to plant employees testing positive for COVID-19.

The unstable supply chain has caused a dramatic drop in the market value of live animals, milk and grain products.

“In order for cattle producers to weather the storm, they are looking for alternative ways to market their beef,” said Marcy Ward, NMSU Extension livestock specialist and co-author of the publication.

“This publication provides information that will help both producers and their customers become educated in direct beef sales from the ranch or farm,” she said.

“It provides meat marketing options and aspects of each option to be considered. It also provides a scenario for calculating the price of the animal to best match retail prices, and maximize the profit per animal.”

The publication is available on NMSU College of ACES website at https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_b/B234.pdf.