A survey was conducted among Florida goat producers to gather descriptive data on the farms/farmers and to identify barriers in marketing the livestock.
In the U.S. today, meat goat production has become one of the fastest growing livestock industries and has proven to be a profitable enterprise for many farm families. In 1998, 400,000 goats were slaughtered at federally inspected facilities. By 1999, 492,000 goats were slaughtered. Persistence among ethnic consumers in maintaining their religious or cultural practices has increased demand for goat meat. It is expected that demand will continue to rise as the ethnic population in the U.S. continues to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that between 1995 and 2050, Hispanics will account for 5% of the immigration into the U.S, and will make up 25% of the U.S. population in 2050. Despite demand for goat meat, there are several challenges facing the industry. Foremost is the lack of a well-established regional or national marketing infrastructure by which goats are distributed from the farm to the consumer. Most goats in the U.S. are sold through livestock auctions, private sales or directly from the farm where backyard slaughtering is a common practice. Thus, producers generate the lowest economic returns for their animals while retailers earn the highest dollar value per unit sold. Although various marketing opportunities do exist for goats, producers need to explore different marketing outlets that are available to them to determine which marketing avenue is the most economically beneficial for their situation such as direct marketing. Through direct marketing, the middle-man is eliminated so that all of the income earned will go directly to the producer. In other words, the producer must effectively market his own products as well as set his prices to earn the highest dollar value possible without over or under pricing himself. The advantage of direct marketing system includes 1.) Consumers that are tired of supermarket factory-raised meat will have better access to fresh products, 2.) Direct Marketing can give the farmer a larger share of the food dollar and possibly a higher return on each unit sold, 3.) Farmers that are unable to compete in or are locked out of traditional markets can build a thriving business and 4.) Some farmers that direct market can add value to their products to increase their profit margin. However, to begin to fully explore this option it is unknown if direct marketing of goat meat is truly feasible for producers in Florida and the southeast. Currently, there is no concrete information on the number of marketing outlets in the state of Florida, or the number of USDA inspected facilities for goats in the state. Furthermore, we have not truly identified the consumers who prefer goat meat (ethnic/non-ethnic), identified their carcass preference or access their willingness to pay for domestically produced goat meat. Other areas that require addressing include determining marketing costs (i.e., labor, transportation, carcass shrinkage), the number of marketable goats in the state to access market potential and goat farmers.
The proposed solution was to develop surveys that primarily accessed and evaluated the feasibility of marketing goats in the state of Florida. We proposed a two year project. The steps of the project are outlined below: 1. In year one, create data base, develop a survey instrument for producers, processors and consumers and identify local farmers and consumers (a representative sample) from each county by working with local extension agents and other county, state and federal agencies to gather the necessary data. Begin surveying counties in the north region of Florida and summarize, analyze survey data and create a report from this region. Access processing and slaughtering facilities through the state of Florida. Identify producers that will also like training opportunities from the universities to help them better facilitate marketing outlets. 2. In year two, identify local farmers from each county by working with local extension agents and other county, state and federal agencies to gather the necessary data. Begin surveying counties in south Florida and identify needs and provide training opportunities. Summarize, analyze survey data, create a report from this region and create a final report to be shared with collaborators on this project. Develop a central clearing house (website, DVD’s) to better provide producers with relevant, current and accurate information on marketing opportunities in Florida. Identify producers that will also like training opportunities from the universities to help them better facilitate marketing outlets. Analyze data and create report that can be shared with state and federal agencies to harness support to better assist the identified constituents and other small farm families.
The survey was created to measure the following: • size of farms • type and size of goat herd • production system the farm operates • farm family demographics • annual sales numbers for each farm • marketing availability and type of actual sales (farm gate vs. auction) • purpose of goat sales • exportation • type of consumers • demographics of goats sold • market seasons • geographical area of greatest demand • interest in farmer direct local community farm system • barriers to retail selling The survey was available at local auctions, goat farmer meetings, training facilities, feed stores, conferences, and cold calling of members of the Florida Meat Goat Association.
The full study results are seen as attachment “Florida Goat Farmers Marketing Survey”. There were multiple variables that had a negative impact on the completion of this study. These include following: 1. The loss of some project cooperators. Within months of the initiation of the study, Nola Wilson took another position and was no longer employed by Marion County Extension Service. She was to have a large role in identifying field technicians and was the liaison to the other county extension offices. An attempt was made to replace her position on the study but no successful replacement was found. Because of her loss, there was no communication with the county extension offices and left finding field technicians to other members. Brittany Bell, who initially agreed to be a project cooperator as data collector/field tech and UF liaison, did not participate at any time in the project. 2. Disbanding of the Florida Meat Goat Association (FMGA). The FMGA was formed in 1986, represented the whole state and was the largest meat goat association in Florida. It was through this organization that farmers were to be identified and surveyed. 3. The U.S. recession and Florida economy. As with most states in the nation, Florida’s economy was negatively impacted by the recession. This was seen by a decrease in the migrant population as available work decreased which decreased consumers of goat meat. Years of drought increased grain and feed prices which forced many goat farms to close. As over all food prices increased and consumers sought cheaper food sources, demand for goat meat also decreased. 4. Personnel difficulties. While searching for a field technician, minimum wage increased as well as a significant increase in gasoline prices. The budget was readjusted to account for these changes. However, it was very difficult to find someone who would take the position in spite of extensive advertising. The field technician that was hired had no experience in surveying and had no rapport or credibility with the farming community and which significantly decreased her ability to engage farmers to participate. Reliable data entry personnel were not obtained which resulted in a lack of completion in entering survey data. 5. Farmer distrust of the survey. There was a surprising resistance among goat farmers to complete the survey. Belief that this information was to be collected by the “government” and lack of understanding of its purpose provided barriers for completion. Farmers also verbalized lack of participation due to the personal information requested from the survey questions. Although many farmers were contacted, a small percentage completed the survey. 6. The initial objectives/performance targets were unrealistic. To achieve the initial objectives, a part time grant administrator would be needed to oversee the project. Positive outcomes that occurred with this study are: 1. This survey tool was created on the basis of a pre-survey (see attachment “Identifying Factors That Determine The Demand For Goat Meat In Florida”). The pre-survey added information about the consumption pattern of goat meat among Florida consumers. The results of this survey yielded valuable information in the expansion of understanding the Florida goat farmer as well as added to the framework of continued study in this area. 2. Florida A&M University helped with some of the expenses of this study which is the main reason why there are still funds in the budget. 3. The survey result validates nationwide statistics conducted by NASS as well as validates the barriers encountered by Florida goat farmers. 4. It was revealed that Florida goat farmers are consolidated in the central area of the state but that the market for goats is in the southern area of the state. 5. Florida goat farmers are overwhelmingly in the 50-69 age range. 6. Farmers indicate a poor understanding of retail regulations. Results Implications: 1. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, most goat and sheep farmers earned less than $10,000 annually. Seventy- six percent of the producers surveyed at the National Goat Conference in 2010 (see attachment “REPORT ON THE FIRST NATIONAL GOAT PRODUCERS CONFERENCE”) indicated that they earn $5,000 or less from the sale of their goats and sheep they marketed annually. These findings were consistent with the present day study. If the next census shows similar results, further studies should be conducted to better assist farmers in identifying or creating channels that could prove to be more profitable then the current marketing systems. 2. Fifty-five percent of the goat farmers that were surveyed in this study were between the ages of 50 – 69 years old while 39% were between the ages of 30 and 49. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, it was noted that younger farmers (under 45) tended to operate grain and oilseed, dairy cattle, poultry or goat and sheep farms (21.7%) while older farmers were more than likely to operate beef cattle production systems. The information obtained from the this project should help goat educators (FAMU) in the future better plan their training programs to specifically address the needs of a younger audiences (i.e., internet marketing, utilizing social media for marketing). 3. According to the results of this study, the largest ethnic group raising goats were identified as White Europeans (62.3%) followed by African Americans (22.3%) and Asian at 6.2%. These results were not surprising since the largest ethnic group of farmers is White Europeans. 4. The number of farms primarily operated by men in Florida was 69.2%, which was similar to the results found in the Census of Agriculture in 2007 (73.9%). The data from the census of 2007 (17.04% increase from 2002 to 2005) has also shown that more women are entering goat and sheep farming. 5. According to the results from this study, most goat producers in Florida primarily live in Columbia County. These farmers primarily farm on their own land, owned less than 25 acres of farm-land (75.4%) and live on their own farms (90.85). 6. Most of the surveyed goat farmers also indicated that they did not have a market for their goats (59.2%). They frequently sold their animals at the farm gate (15.4%), livestock auctions (11.5%) or through other avenues (.8%). Their goats are sold primarily for meat (87.7%) followed by breeding stock (7.7%) and other (3.1%). Most producers did not export their goats to other countries (99.1%). Sixty – eight percent of the farmers that were surveyed indicated that they owned 25 or less goats, they raised meat goats (88.5%), and only 6.9% surveyed raised dairy goats. 7. Florida goat producers who participated in survey primarily sold their goats to individuals (11.5%) whom they were not sure of their ethnic background. White Europeans (10.8%) was the second largest group in which the participants sold their animals to followed by Black Caribbean’s (3.8%), Black Hispanics (3.1%) and White Hispanics (3.1%). African Americans (1%) were least likely to purchase goat meat or goat meat products according to the results of this survey. The results of this section of the analysis can help Florida farmers make better decisions on which consumer to target for distribution of goat products. 8. When asked which sex class did they most frequently sold, Florida goat producers typically sold more male goats (61.5%) than females (3.1%). When it came to weight/class, Florida goat producers generally sold more animals that weighed between 41-60 pounds (42.3%), than goats that weighed over 100 pounds. 9. Florida producers also typically sell goats between April – June (53.8%), which was also the findings in the survey from the National Goat Conference. This current study has helped substantiate the early findings that the price paid for goats is the highest between the month of April and June. These results can help producer’s better plan there breeding programs around markets that brings the highest economic returns. When asked what region of Florida they felt the greatest demand for goat meat was 72.3% overwhelmingly stated South Florida. 10. When asked if they felt they were receiving a fair price for their animals, Florida goat producers indicated on the survey that they felt they were not getting a fair price (53.8%) for their animals. This information will also help Florida producers to learn the importance of planning their breeding programs around markets that will bring the highest price. 11. Several producers that participated in this study also indicated that when it came to retail marketing they had a poor understanding of regulations. These findings should give goat educators a better insight on which areas to place emphasis on when developing educational opportunities for goat producers. Consumption Patterns of Goat Meat In a pre-survey that was taken at FAMU to assess consumption patterns of goat meat among Florida consumers, the following information was obtained. Materials and Methods A survey designed to capture data on demographic, socio economic and consumption preferences for goat meat were used. The questionnaires were distributed to people of different ethnic backgrounds throughout the state of Florida. The surveys were distributed through email, person to person and also through telephone communication. A total of 173 surveys were distributed over a three month period. The surveys were numbered for purposes of data integrity then the responses were coded then entered into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The data were later analyzed using the Statistic analysis system (SAS) version 9.0 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Chi square tests of association and linear trends were done to look for significant relationships between meat goat consumption and the explanatory variables and significant trends in consumption patterns, with respect to the explanatory variables used in the study. Results and discussion Table 1: The Association between Race and Goat Meat Consumption (see attachment “Identifying Factors That Determine The Demand For Goat Meat In Florida”) Table 2: The Association between Income and Goat Meat Consumption (see attachment “Identifying Factors That Determine The Demand For Goat Meat In Florida”) Table 3: The Association between Gender and Goat Meat Consumption (see attachment “Identifying Factors That Determine The Demand For Goat Meat In Florida”) Table 4: Seasonal Demand For Meat Goats (see attachment “Identifying Factors That Determine The Demand For Goat Meat In Florida”) Conclusion The study indicates a clear gender bias since males consume significantly more goat meat compared to females. Based on the results of the chi-square analyses, there is a stronger preference for goat meat among people from the Caribbean, Continental Africa and Asia respectively. Consumers from these regions consume significantly more goat meat than Europeans and Hispanics. The results indicated no significant trend in consumption patterns across the various income categories surveyed. Individuals in high income categories are just as likely to consume goat meat as those in low income categories. Meat goat sales are highest during the second quarter of the year (April to June). However, sales during the fourth quarter are comparable to those of the second quarter. This information bears strong implications for limited resource producers, since timing of breeding is important in order to have animals ready for these specific time periods. References National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2005. Live¬stock Slaughter – Annual Summary. United States Department of Agriculture.
American Meat Goat Association. 2008. Chevon recipes. A.M.G.A. Article Archives. Retrieved July 18, 2008, from Harvard School of Public Health. 2008. Fats and cholesterol: Out with the bad, in with the good. The Nutrition Source. Retrieved July 18, 2008, from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/index.html. Lynn F. Kime, senior extension associate in agricultural economics; and Jayson K. Harper, associate professor of agricultural Economics. The Pennsylvania State University 2009
Educational & Outreach Activities
The results of this study will be used at the next Master Goat Program that will be conducted at Florida A&M University in May 2013 while early preliminary study findings were used at their 2012 session. In September 2013, the study results will be used at the National Goat Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina, which will be hosted by North Carolina A&T University. The data results will be combined with an earlier study on consumer preferences and will be published for distribution at this meeting.
To date, there is no evidence that indicates this data has impacted the goat farm industry. I However, this information will be used for farmer educational purposes, basis for future research, and an indicator for market and production strategies at Florida A&M University.
The contribution this survey will make to the goat farmers in Florida will be positive and long lasting. 1. This information identified focus issues and will help the universities to understand the educational areas needed for future Florida goat farmer training. It will provide the basis for educational programs and projects. 2. Gaps in the area of production and marketing have been identified that provide guidance for improvements. 3. Areas for future research were identified. 4. Data from this study will be combined with another survey to analyze consumption patterns in the meat goat industry.
Future recommendations are numerous and are divided into “variable improvements” and “areas of future research”. Variable Improvements 1. Field technicians need to be offered a more competitive wage, preferably have experience in survey techniques and have an established rapport or credibility with the goat farming community. 2. Establish formal training for field technicians to master not only the technique of surveying but to also have a full grasp of the content and purpose of the study to persuade and increase farmer participation. 3. Hire a part time administrator to properly oversee the objectives of the grant. Areas of Future Research 1. Compare differences in goat farmers versus cattle farmers. Cattle farmers are highly organized politically and organizationally which positively impacts the industry as a whole. However, goat farmers tend to be single minded, not willing to participate in organizations that could ultimately benefit the industry and the farmer as a whole. Grasping a better understand of the goat farmers attitudes could direct educational programs to positively impact the farmer and the industry. 2. A follow up study needs to be expanded by using county extension agents in each county as originally planned to identify small farmers. This would provide a more accurate sampling and would yield more information that can be applied by county and region. 3. How to increase Florida A&M University’s outreach to the goat farming community. 4. Question goat farmers on what is desired for an organized state coalition.