Farm and Ranch
New AgriLife Extension program to address direct beef sales
By Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M
Aug 26, 2022
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Program Aug. 26 in Brenham
tackles legal, economic issues

Interest in direct beef sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, along with a public desire to make that local connection in meat sales, so two Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists are planning a program to help navigate this potential new venture for beef producers.

Justin Benavidez, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, and Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist, both in Amarillo and the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics, have planned a “Where’s the Beef? Legal and Economic Considerations for Direct Beef Sales Businesses” meeting.

The extensive program will be offered for free and include a copy of a program handbook. Lunch will also be provided. Registration is required: Aug. 26 in Brenham.

Direct beef sales will be the topic of meetings in Amarillo on June 20 and Brenham on Aug. 26. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Laura McKenzie)

“Basically, we started seeing an increasing number of beef producers interested in direct sales, and on the flip side we saw a lot of the public interested in buying beef directly from a producer,” Lashmet said. “There’s a lot of information out there about how to market, but there wasn’t much looking at the ins and outs of the legal and economic issues.

“This program we have designed will provide practical, real-world information to anyone interested in the direct beef sales business.”

Designing a course, developing a handbook

Lashmet and Benavidez received grant funding from the Southern Risk Management Education Center to develop a day-long program, along with a handbook, and now they are ready to take the information to the public.

“We’re now ready to offer the course — and will do so in Brenham — to help walk people through some of those issues they need to think about and considerations they should undertake before starting this type of business,” Lashmet said.

The topics they address range from labeling to licensing and will also include how to develop a budget and set prices, Benavidez said.

Benavidez said he’ll also explain risk management programs that can help producers mitigate losses. Another big topic is storage and shipment and how that varies if you’re selling retail cuts as opposed to selling a half of a beef or a quarter of a beef.

“I’ll talk a lot about the economic outcomes and the expectations for revenue and profit, as well as some of the other things you need to think about when planning a business transition from a traditional cow-calf enterprise to a direct-to-consumer beef sales enterprise,” he said.

On the agenda

In addition to Lashmet and Benavidez, the program will include Jade Cooper, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension meat specialist in the Texas A&M Department of Animal Sciences, discussing basic information about beef slaughter and processing.

“Then we’re going to have a panel of folks who are actually doing this in the industry, and they will talk about their specific operations and answer questions from the audience,” Benavidez said. “For example, we know inventory management is very important, and that is an area we expect the panel to spend time discussing, because they’ve done it. They’ve got ideas.”

Lashmet agreed inventory management is an important topic.

“It depends on how many cattle you are processing, but you end up with a lot of ground beef, but most of your customers may be looking for rib-eyes,” she said. “Balancing inventory can be a major issue for direct-sales businesses.”