Filling a meat processing niche

Barn addition

Siverlings decide on-farm plant makes sense

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Bloomer, Wisconsin — When the butcher shop that had been processing all of their pastured beef closed, Jared Siverling and his wife, Vanessa Klemish, had two options. One was trying to squeeze the 30 steers they annually finish into slots at the remaining two small facilities in the area.

The other was to start doing their own processing.

Jared and Vanessa chose the latter, in part because they wanted more control over the quality of the processing and packaging they feel is an important part of delivering the best meats to their customers.

“One of the biggest frustrations is to take a beautiful animal raised with a lot of love and care and some really good, high-quality feed, and then not control the vital processing step,” Jared explains. “Every farmer is fighting for processing slots, and opening a processing plant is a way to grow an additional revenue stream while adding value to the community.”

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A wholesale option for marketers

Cows grazing

Bone-In Food aims to get good food to more people

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Hillsborough Twnshp, New Jersey – Demand for alternative foods may be growing rapidly, but not all producers of such foods are capable of selling everything they produce on their own.

For those sorts of people in this part of the world, Bone-In Food is providing a premium wholesale outlet. Farmer and direct-marketer John Lima sells up to 10% of his production through Bone-In.

“I think what they’re doing is great,” John says. “They’re reaching out to a lot more people who normally wouldn’t come to our place. For instance, a lot of older people who don’t have the ways and means to come to our store.”

For founder Ron Mirante, Bone-In Food is a way of fulfilling his long-term goal of getting wholesome food into the hands of busy people who want to eat well. For some 40 farmers, Bone-In offers another market opportunity outside of current direct or wholesale channels at better-than-wholesale prices.

“I’ve always wanted to contribute,” Ron explains. “I had a hard time working just to make money. I wanted to be more involved in the growth and progression of a better future.”

All Bone-In suppliers follow “organic-like” practices, although some are not certified. All animals for meat, dairy and eggs are pastured, and most beef and dairy cattle are 100% grassfed.

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Coordinating beef grazing and marketing

Beef on pasture

Farmers United says grassfed market is there for the taking

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Statesville, North Carolina — Sam Dobson saw a need to link grassfed beef graziers with wholesale markets looking for volume and consistency.

That’s why he founded Farmers United Cattle Company, LLC two years ago. Dobson has been building the business around filling that need, and says it is producing fast growth and interest from both graziers and buyers within its main operating area of the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

Farmers United mainly works in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, with some production in Pennsylvania and New York as well.

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Grassfed enterprise aiming high

Beef on pasture

99 Counties taps venture capital to achieve goals

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Keystone, Iowa — Nick Wallace’s grandmother took eggs and cream from the farm to sell in nearby Keystone. That era of small, diversified farms with vibrant communities is something Nick is hoping to recapture, at least in part.

To that end, he has started 99 Counties, a company that seeks to be the catalyst to a resurgence of grazing farms and communities.

The new venture follows Nick and his family’s two decades of experience raising and selling grassfed beef and pastured meats and sourcing additional meats from other farms as sales volumes grew. In addition to farming 200 acres of organic row crops, the Wallace family grazes 60 head of red and black Angus brood cows and 40-50 finishers.

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Helmicks’ change places family first

Grazing sheep

Switch to multi-species grazing providing a better quality of life

By Martha Hoffman Kerestes

Greenville, West Virginia — Starting their own grass dairy from scratch was a dream come true for Aaron and Tara Helmick. But the dairy became a burden despite a decade of economic success.

The problem was a lack of quality of life. Aaron says he has very few memories of his second and third children before they were four years old because he was working so much that he was barely in the house.

Aaron and Tara started the low-input dairy as newlyweds in 2010 with an FSA loan and a 10-year lease on 470 acres. At first, prices were good and their seasonal management allowed a two-week vacation every year to recharge.

Then they were offered an organic contract at a good price that required a switch to year-round milking, so they made the transition in 2015. Milk prices dropped soon after, and the continuous milking made it hard to get away and even harder to maintain a healthy day-to-day life. They had doubled the herd in 2016, and were getting ready to double it again in 2018 when they realized something needed to change.

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Regenerative ag aims to go mainstream

Regenified logo

By Joel McNair

Organic and grassfed production practices have done great things for thousands of farmers and ranchers. Millions of consumers have benefited, too.

But looking at this from a broader perspective — and I think most organic and grassfed people do look at things this way — there’s a big problem here:

Very few acres are being farmed and ranched as organic and/or grassfed.

The things we want to achieve in terms of bettering people and the planet aren’t getting done. Indeed, by most reports the overall picture here is getting darker by the day.

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