I know it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been working on a few posts actually, just need to finish them up and get them published. I felt compelled, though, to share this little story from Friday.
We are trying to diversify our farming operation here. In addition to the dairy operations and making our own feed, we’d like to start selling our jersey beef at local farmers’ markets. Being that it’s almost time for the markets to start and we’ve got a steer that’s prit close to being ready to go, we decided we should figure out what we need to do to make it happen.
We had an idea that it may not be a smooth process, given the lack of USDA-inspected facilities that exist, but one that happens to also be the state facility is located not 35 minutes from us. We heard they are pretty backed up with work. Well, we’ll see what we find out!
The first phone call was to the State. It went great – the guy on the phone was extremely helpful, even cheery to help us get our stuff in order. He explained the licenses we needed to apply for and that we would need to get set up with a processing plant that could put a label on our beef for us. That would be my second phone call.
Trying to push down the apprehension the seemed to be growing in my gut, I called the processing plant. To my surprise, everything went smoothly – the gal at the other end of the phone said they were only a few weeks backed up and would May 21st work? “Why, yes, yes that would be great! Oh ya, and by the way, we want to sell this meat at farmers’ markets, can you-”
She cut me off. “Oh,” she said, “I’m sorry we’re not taking on any more commercial vendors.”
As soon as she said that the apprehension I felt earlier came flooding out in the form of, “Oh damn!” with the appropriate facial expression (internal monologue of course). What do you mean commercial vendors? We’re just a couple of farmer’s trying to do the right thing and make a few extra bucks. I suppose we could sell shares in the meat while the steer is still here but that wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.
Oh well. Back to the drawing board to try to figure this thing out. We heard of another facility that wouldn’t be too far that was going to be opening, possibly in May. Would it be too flatlander-ish of me to call the guy before he opens to try to get on his commercial vendor list?
We’re still going to have our steer done up. It will be our first one. I’m hoping to be able to convince my DF that raising our jersey beef to sell locally is a good idea. Stay tuned.
6 responses to “Got Jersey Beef?”
HOw do they define commercial anyway? Jersey beef has.. or at least should have.. a great market. Lean, tender… mmmm! How many other people do you know up there who are growing their own? You could always bring little pictures of cows and sell shares at the farmers’ market instead! 🙂
Ha! Thanks, Linda. The woman on the phone meant us selling with our label on it, but they have to put on the label with the “inspected” stamp on it. We’re checking it out. I’ll keep you posted!
We take custom orders with our Jersey Beef. They choose the butcher, make arrangements for the cuts they want and they pay us by the hanging pound prior to pick up. We try to do a 50% down payment on a 450 lb carcass (average weight for the 15-18 month olds we send) and then the remaining balance once the butcher shop lets us know the official weight.
As far as taking it to market, I think what I would try is some taste testing, sample trays of a few cuts and then take orders. I wouldn’t want to transport beef in big quantity. Just a thought.
Thanks for the idea! I’ll have to run it by my DF.
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