Final Report for LS06-191
The purpose of this project was to conduct research and education activities that will promote the development of pasture-fed beef (PFB) markets in Virginia. Previous research has shown that PFB is a niche market that has the potential to contribute to the ecological sustainability of farming; the economic well-being of farmers; the economic vitality of rural communities; and regional economic linkages.
Pasture-feeding is a production system that is seeing increasing adoption across the U.S., however with the exception of some studies on consumer demand, markets for PFB have received little treatment. The development of a PFB market that will contribute to both environmental and economic objectives requires additional research, including the product and service requirements of specific consumer groups and market outlets which would sell to them; constraints that affect product flow from farm to consumer; and the differing costs and benefits of alternative PFB production systems. This project addressed these issues in the context of a research and education program for PFB markets in Virginia.
- Identify and describe economic/financial properties of alternative PFB systems using different levels of off-farm resources, and how their product is valued by consumers;
- Map the structure of the PFB marketing channels currently in use, and identify constraints and inefficiencies that currently constrain the market or will likely impede its expansion;
- Analyze the potential for diverse retail and food service outlets to participate in PFB markets, and requirements for sales through these markets;
- Analyze preferences and demand for PFB among growing Latin American, Asian, and European populations; and
- Extend results of research through educational programs to producers and dissemination of research results through extension, industry and professional outlets.
The purpose of this project is to conduct research and education activities that will contribute to the development of a pasture-fed beef (PFB) market in Virginia that is both economically and ecologically-sustainable. Research shows that PFB is a niche market that has the potential to contribute to 1) the ecological sustainability of farming, 2) the economic well-being of farmers including those whose activities are constrained by limited resources, and 3) the economic vitality of rural communities and regional economic linkages. The development of PFB systems that make these contributions is not assured, however, given both the current incipient developmental stage of the market, and the potential for the market to develop in directions which compromise its potential economic and ecological sustainability.
PFB as a potential contributor to sustainable agriculture & markets: Rural Virginia is threatened on multiple fronts. Farmers are increasingly constrained by the spread of suburban communities into rural areas, with attendant cost, political and social pressures to alter their ways of doing business. As government commodity programs (such as tobacco and peanut) have been restructured leading to fewer farms and less total acres and producers are searching for alternative sources of income. Many conventional commodity alternatives relying on mature markets are no longer economically attractive due to size and scale and environmental constrains,
Given these environmental, social, political and economic pressures, Virginia’s farmers are searching for productive and profitable alternatives, like PFB, that will allow them to enhance economic, environmental, and socially sustainability.
PFB fits the definition of sustainable agriculture. It satisfies human food needs by producing a high quality, high protein, healthy product with a pleasurable eating experience (EatWild). It enhances environmental quality and the natural resource base, and makes good use of resources both on and off-farm—on farm, it makes the most of cattle’s ability to convert grass to meat in a low input system, making efficient use of solar energy, improving soil nutrient cycling, conserving soil and water, and limiting reliance on non-renewable resources (DeRamus 2004). Off-farm, PFB has a lower environmental impact than confined systems—in comparison to the local nature of PFB systems, in a conventional beef production system calves are raised on a cow-calf farm, shipped to a stocker farm where they are grazed for a number of months, then transported to a feedlot where they are “finished” in a confined and input-intensive system, before being shipped to a large-scale packer usually in another state and distributed to supermarkets across the country (Jost 1999).
PFB offers economic returns that can enhance producers’ economic well-being. PFB is a high-value product, and consumers are willing to pay a premium for specific quality attributes, allowing producers to focus on maximizing quality, not quantity at the lowest possible cost (Grannis and Thilmany 2000; Umberger, Feuz et al. 2001; Jost 1999). PFB systems also offer less overall risk to producers than conventional systems (Evans, D’Souza et al. 2004). Furthermore, because PFB is often direct marketed on the local level, growers are in a position to reap more of the value along the marketing chain, particularly in cases where they conduct their own value-added activities (Earles and Fanatico 2000). In contrast, many cattle farmers in Virginia today operate cow-calf operations, and claim a small portion of the final value of the meat produced.
PFB may also be suited to limited resource farmers. PFB has relatively low input and labor requirements (Cash II 2002). PFB’s high value may also be well-suited to small farms and otherwise limited resource farmers because, unlike expansions of production capacity (a quantity focus), producing a high-value product does not necessarily require larger acreage (Grannis and Thilmany 2000). The reduced marketing risk associated with PFB is also an important potential benefit to small and limited resource farmers (Rawlins and Bernardo 1991; Evans, D’Souza et al. 2004).
Finally, PFB markets can enhance long-term regional economic linkages that spread benefits beyond producers to their communities too. This potential is borne of the local nature of PFB market development (where production, processing and market outlets are in relatively close proximity). Thus, the production of PFB in one community can stimulate and support a small or medium-scale processor nearby, and generate further linkages as it is marketed through regional channels (Vernazza Paganini 2004).
Research and Education Needs: Despite their potential, PFB markets in Virginia and elsewhere are fragmented and suffer a lack of information and coordination on both supply and demand sides. This observation is consistent with results from previously funded SARE research, most of which has focused on the production aspects of PFB systems, often finding that marketing was the limiting constraint to their success. For example, the project “Whole Farm Planning for Grass-fed Beef” found that the primary impediment that producers faced in PFB markets was lacking the ability and time to develop the market. Likewise, the project “Development of a Rancher Cooperative to Market Grass-Fed Meat” reported that “the ranchers involved in this project knew that if we wanted to produce grass-fed beef, we would have to create our own marketing system through which to sell it. Nevertheless, none of us had any idea how difficult all this would be,” and the researchers conducting the project “Pasture-Based Beef Finishing Systems,” though focused on production aspects, found that their product actually sold at a discount in conventional markets.
In general, with the exception of some consumer demand studies, marketing issues have been under-studied, and now present a key area that must be addressed. Several SARE projects have addressed PFB marketing issues, generally focusing on niche markets. For example, “Selling Grass-Fed Beef to College Market” targeted college students in attempting to address the problem of how to sell non-premium cuts, and the project “Improving Farm Profits by Developing a Niche Market for Green-Certified Senior Calf Beef,” sought to develop direct markets for PFB. No SARE projects are known to have attempted to treat the whole marketing chain—from farmer, through processor, to consumer, with the aim of identifying coordination issues between these linkages in the chain, and using consumer issues to inform investments in the supply chain and producer activities. The current research aims toward this gap.
- Case studies and financial analyses of seven farms that raised pasture-fed beef or direct marketed beef produced in partial pasture-based or confinement systems (for comparison) were conducted. Survey is included in hard copy report.
- A telephone survey of all known Virginia producers of pasture-fed, organic or natural beef was conducted resulting in 42 completed surveys with more than 80% participation. Survey is included in hard copy report. The data was analyzed using both descriptive and cluster analysis.
- A telephone survey of approximately 17 slaughter and processing facilities was conducted to determine their activities and constraints. Data was analyzed with descriptive analysis. Survey is included in hard copy report.
- A survey of 21 diverse retailers and food service outlets was conducted to determine the potential to market pasture-fed beef through these outlets. This survey is included as an appendix to Ashleigh Waddle’s thesis, which is included in the hard copy report.
- A survey of 231 Hispanic beef consumers was conducted to determine Hispanic preferences and willingness to pay for pasture-fed beef. Data was analyzed using descriptive and econometric analysis. This survey is included as an appendix to Jie Luo’s dissertation, which is included in draft version in the hard copy report.
Three types of producers were identified based on cluster analysis of data from the farm-level survey.
Add-ons: consists of producers who are direct marketing beef in addition to an existing conventional beef cattle operation. Members of the add-on cluster are somewhat diverse, with the average producer raising one additional direct marketed animal product in addition to beef. Additionally, producers in this cluster have the smallest proportion of sales from direct marketed beef (22%), but slaughter an average of 13 animals last year.
For these producers, the addition of a direct marketing aspect required minimal capital investment and were generally limited to a freezer and/or some form of on-farm cold storage. These producers typically have larger farms and herds and sell mostly to customers on-farm.
Direct marketed beef only: represents producers who are experimenting with the production and direct marketing of beef, but do not operate at the level of clusters Add-ons and the Diversifieds. The majority of producers in the “direct marketing beef only” cluster only raise beef. While 100% of their farm sales come from direct marketed beef, these individuals only slaughtered an average of 4 animals last year. Individuals in this cluster have significant levels of off-farm income.
Diversified direct marketers: are producers who direct market a larger proportion of their sales of beef and other animal products. Producers in this cluster raise on average 2.5 additional direct marketed animal products besides beef. The average of 33 animals they slaughtered last year represents 55% of their farm sales. Almost 70% of the producers in this cluster have at least $20,000 in off-farm income.
This group has to make larger capital investments in order to produce their products. These capital investments include land and improvements (such as fences and waters), livestock, machinery and equipment, coolers and storage, and/or freezer trucks. These producers typically sell at farmers markets in addition to on-farm, thus the need for the freezer truck. Often, the newer entrants were faced with learning all aspects of production agriculture, from livestock husbandry to equipment purchase and maintenance.
Additional insight was obtained from the case studies which permitted the following generalizations:
Role of Direct Marketed Enterprise: Add-on producers generally had established, successful cattle operations, and are experimenting with a direct marketing enterprise as a means to increase income and enhance profitability. The direct marketed cattle are typically the same breed and are raised under similar production practices as the rest of the herd. Direct marketed and Diversified producers use direct marketing more as a means to generate income and cash flow for their farm business. Typically, the more add-ons are only direct marketing a small portion of their finished animals, compared to the newer entrants who are attempting to direct market all of their finished animals.
Size and Scale Issues: Generally, the Add-on’s have larger farms and larger cow herds. Larger farms help the established producers take advantage of size and scale to operate more efficiently. This is done by spreading their fixed costs over more animals. In the event their direct marketed enterprise is unsuccessful, the established producers can generate income by selling through traditional commodity markets.
The Direct marketed and Diversified producers generally have smaller farms and face issues with size and scale. By operating on a smaller scale, the producers may have trouble competing in the commodity market in the event their direct marketed enterprises were unsuccessful.
Farm Mix: Beef cattle are typically the only animal raised by producers who are direct marketing from existing operations. Their farm mix typically includes beef sold both conventionally as well as through direct marketed methods.
The Diversified direct marketers market typically have a diversified farm mix that includes beef, pork, poultry, eggs, lambs, and/or rabbits. These additional products help provide cash flow as well as a means of risk diversification.
Production Knowledge: In the group analysis, the producers direct marketing from existing beef cattle operations have more experience raising cattle, helping them better manage the beef production process.
Cash Flow: Beef producers who were direct marketing from existing operations have the relatively steady cash flow provided by their existing farm, and are in a better position to experiment with a direct marketed enterprise. Their cash flow needs are typically satisfied by their existing cattle operation, another non-direct marketed commodity (such as row crops or timber sales), or off-farm income.
The newer entrants faced cash flow issues when solely relying on their direct marketed beef enterprise. These producers are forced to sell their beef to the commodity market, direct market additional animals (pork, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc), or seek off-farm income to enhance their cash flow.
Profitability: Due to the lack of financial information, specific inferences cannot be made about profitability of the farms visited. Generally, the seven farms either did not have adequate financial data (at least three years) or were unwilling to provide access to the data. The producers with existing beef cattle operations already have the capital invested for beef production, and appear to be in a better position to make direct marketing profitable, compared to more diversified group.
A personal belief in pasture based production systems motivated the new entrants to produce and direct market their beef. To the newer entrants, these beliefs, along with successfully raising and marketing a grass-finished beef animal is as important as earning a profit.
Complete results are provided in the Case study titled “A Characterization and Analysis of Direct Marketed Beef Production Systems in Virginia“ by Bradley Webb, enclosed. An article is being prepared from the results for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
Most direct-marketers of beef entered this activity with prior experience in beef-cattle production. The typical value-added beef farm in Virginia has 230 acres, with 164 acres devoted to pasture. On average, a producer devotes 70 percent of his or her farm acreage specifically to the production of direct-marketed beef. The typical farm produces at least one other direct-marketed animal product in addition to beef – usually pork or chicken. Approximately one-third of producers’ net farm income comes from direct-marketed beef; two-thirds comes from direct-marketed livestock in general, including beef.
The majority of the producers raise cattle from birth to slaughter, with the typical herd having 60 head. Calving is done in both the spring and fall. The average weaning weight is 518 pounds for steers and 475 pounds for heifers. Angus is the most prevalent breed for both bull and cow breeding stock.
Most producers feed and finish cattle on pasture. Less than half of the operations supplement their cows or weaned calves, and the average farmer starts feeding hay on November 15. The typical producer utilizes orchard grass, fescue, and clover as primary forages. The typical producer does not use feed additives or sub-therapeutic antibiotics and utilizes a veterinarian to treat sick animals.
Processing is typically done in a USDA-inspected facility, at an appointment made two months to four months in advance. The producers typically provide their own transportation to the processing facility, driving an average of 59 miles one-way to the facility with relatively small loads of four animals on average. Factors such as the need to make appointments several months in advance, the cost of transporting animals to processing, and the seasonality of pasture production can lead producers to slaughter their animals based on a predetermined schedule (for example, 43 percent of those interviewed base slaughter decisions on age), which can compromise the quality and consistency of the product that is marketed.
Once processed, the carcass is typically aged for 15 days to 17 days and sold as frozen individual cuts, with the decision to sell frozen meat determined in large part by the difficulty small farmers face in selling a whole animal before it spoils, particularly considering the seasonality of demand for different types of cuts. The high value of inventory held by direct-marketers of beef reinforces the observation that selling the whole animal presents a significant marketing challenge. Many producers market their products in boxes, bundles, whole carcasses, sides, and quarters – rather than as individual cuts – to alleviate this problem.
Farm sales and farmers markets are the two most important market outlets used by producers. Sales at farmers markets provide greater visibility and may generate a loyal clientele that is amenable to buying directly from the farm in the future. On-farm sales are generally a less-expensive means of marketing the product compared to farmers markets because there is no need to pay for transportation to the market or labor dedicated to a day of sales. Also, on-farm sales don’t require that additional marketing equipment (such as coolers to keep the product frozen or chilled at market) be purchased.
Producers’ heavy reliance on word-of-mouth advertising shows potential for improvements to sales and reductions in inventory through use of low-cost advertising methods such as free Internet advertising sites (e.g., www.EatWild.com) and state-sponsored programs such as the Virginia Grown program. Other advertising possibilities such as newsletters, e-mail lists, Internet sites, and newspaper advertising could also effectively increase producers’ sales at a relatively low cost.
Further major results are provided in the publications “A Characterization of Direct-Marketed Beef Production in Virginia” and “A Characterization of Direct-Market Beef Processing and Marketing in Virginia,” included in hard copy report.
The retail and food service surveys revealed that supermarkets are not a promising market for pasture-finished beef for Virginia producers due to a lack of perceived demand as well as high entry barriers that would be particularly daunting for Virginia’s small scale producers to meet. In contrast, direct sales to consumers, sales to specialty retailers and through restaurants, particularly those promoting locally sourced foods, offer promising market outlets for area producers. A more comprehensive presentation of the results is provided in Ashleigh Waddle’s thesis “A Market Analysis for Specialty Beef in Virginia,” included in hard copy report.
One general conclusion is that grass-fed beef was preferred over conventional grain-fed beef – by 50% of Hispanic consumers. Most of them were willing to pay a price premium for it. More than 50% were willing to pay a premium of at least $3.00/lb for grass-fed beef. This suggests a potential promising market of grass-fed beef existing among the Hispanic population in Virginia.
Our results indicate that Hispanic consumers were able to distinguish the appearance and taste differences between the grass-fed and conventional grain-fed beef. Beef sensory attributes significantly affected consumers‘ visual expectation and taste experiences. Bivariate Probit estimations revealed a significant and positive relationship between consumers‘ visual and taste preferences, which conformed to the Perception of Quality for Beef (PQB) model developed by Wierenga (1982). When discrepancy between appearance and taste preferences occurs, taste satisfaction had more importance than visual acceptability in consumer overall preference. Except sensory attributes, the importance of marbling in beef purchase decision was a significant and positive predictor of consumer visual preference; on the contrary, although insignificant, it adversely affected consumer taste preference. This finding was confirmed by previous studies (e.g. Umberger2001; Umberger et al. 2002). The variables that influenced visual and taste preferences were not the same. The potential visually grass-fed preferring consumers were more likely to be Mexican or Colombian, more acculturated, and ate beef less frequently at home. Consumers who had fewer children at home, liked less-cooked beef, and ate beef less frequently away from home might more preferred the taste of grass-fed beef.
Consumers who were male, had a smaller household but more children, and ate beef more often away from home were the potential grass-fed beef favorers. Female, older, less-educated consumers who had a smaller household but more children at home were willing to pay more for grass-fed beef if they preferred it.
An interesting finding is about the interaction terms of origin of country and peer effects (the number of same-country neighbors). The effects of origin of country on willingness-to-pay vary with different levels of peer effects. Given participation (overall preferences for grass-fed beef), Colombia origin promotes peer effects while origins from Mexico, Salvador/Honduras, or other Hispanic countries weaken this effect. Nevertheless, only the interaction between Mexico and peer effects significantly influences on consumers‘ willingness-to-pay. That is, Mexican or Mexican-American subjects who lived with more Mexican neighbors were less willing to pay for grass-fed beef. To our surprise, no significant influences of the interaction terms were found on consumer overall preferences. Rather, the pure positive effects of Mexico and Colombia origin were detected on consumer visual preferences.
Another important finding is that Hispanic consumers who preferred grass-fed beef were inclined to be health-conscious. Their health attitude and conception significantly determined sensory preferences and WTP. Grass-fed preferring consumers were more concerned about food health/nutrition contents and the presence of marbling and had more prior purchase experience of specialty meat products.
Full documentation of the results of the analysis of Hispanic consumer demand is provided in the draft dissertation by Jie Luo, titled “Hispanic Consumers’ Preferences and Willingness-to-Pay for Grass-Fed Beef in Virginia,” included in hard copy report.
See section on Publications and Outreach.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Webb, Bradley (2007) “A Characterization and Analysis of Direct Marketed Beef Production Systems in Virginia. Master’s degree case study. Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. May.
Waddle, Ashleigh (2009) “A Market Analysis for Specialty Beef in Virginia.” Master’s degree thesis. Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech. May. Available at http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-05122009-084732/.
Luo, Jie (2009) “Hispanic Consumers’ Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Grass-fed Beef in Virginia.” Doctoral dissertation. Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech.
(VCE publication are peer reviewed by one Virginia Tech or Virginia State faculty, one faculty member external to Virginia Tech and Virginia State, and two VCE agents.)
Waddle, Ashleigh, D. Mainville (forthcoming) Restaurants as a Potential Market for Specialty Beef in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Under review.
Waddle, Ashleigh, D. Mainville (forthcoming) Specialty Stores as a Potential Market for Specialty Beef in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension. Under review.
Waddle, Ashleigh, D. Mainville (forthcoming) Supermarkets as a Potential Market for Specialty Beef in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension. In press.
Mainville, Denise, G. Groover, A. Waddle, B. Webb (2009) A Characterization of Direct Market Beef Processing and Marketing in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 448-123. May. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/448/448-123/448-123.html.
Mainville, Denise, G. Groover, B. Webb, A. Waddle (2009) A Characterization of Direct Marketed Beef Production in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 448-124 July. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/448/448-124/448-124.html
Mainville, Denise, A. Waddle (2008) An Inventory of Slaughter and Processing Facilities for Virginia Direct Marketers of Beef. Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 448-195, October. http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/agecon/448-195/448-195.html.
Waddle, Ashleigh and D. Mainville (under review) “Moving Beyond Direct Marketing: Alternative Market Outlets for Specialty Beef.” Under review for publication in Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.
Luo, J., D. Mainville, W. You, R. Nayga. (2009) “Hispanic Consumers’ Preferences and Willingness-to-Pay for Pasture-Fed Beef in Virginia” Selected paper and presentation for the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s annual conference, Budapest, June 23-26.
Luo, J., D. Mainville (2008) Hispanic Consumers’ Preferences and Willlingness to Pay for Pasture-Fed Beef. Selected Paper for the Food Distribution Research Society annual conference, Dublin Ohio, October 11-15.
Waddle, A., D. Mainville (2008) High-Value Markets for Agri-food Products: Analysis of the Potential for and Constraints to the Development of a Direct-Marketed Beef Industry in Virginia. Selected Paper for the International Food and Agribusiness management Association annual conference. Monterrey, California, June 15-18.
Burner, J., W. You, D. Mainville (2008) Demand Driven Pricing: An Alternative Pricing Strategy for Direct Marketers of Beef. Selected Paper for the International Food and Agribusiness management Association annual conference. Monterrey, California, June 15-18.
Waddle, A. and D. Mainville. (2007) Production, Processing and Marketing Strategies of High-Value Beef Producers: An Analysis of Pasture-fed, Organic and Natural Beef Systems in Virginia. Selected Paper for the Food Distribution Research Society annual conference. New Orleans, November 3-7.
Love, K. and D. Mainville. (2006) Feasibility Case Study for Pasture Fed Beef Mount Vernon Farm Sperryville, VA. Description: Pasture Fed Beef Feasibility Case Study.
Waddle, A. and D. Mainville. (2006) “Niche Market Opportunities for Small Farmers: Case Study of Virginia Beef Markets” Selected paper for International Food and Agribusiness Management Association annual conference. Buenos Aires, June 10-14.
Mainville, D. and T. Stanley (Organizers) (2008) “Direct Markets for Beef in Virginia.” Virginia Cooperative Extension In-service Training on Direct Marketing Beef. Weyers Cave, February 13.
Mainville, D., T. Stanley (Organizers) (2008) Producer Workshop on Direct Marketing Beef. Weyers Cave, February 13.
Mainville, D., G. Groover (2009). Direct-marketing Virginia beef (episode 824 ) . Virginia Farming and rebroadcast on RFD-TV. First aired on September 11. http://vimeo.com/6732936. RFD-TV has nationwide coverage.
Mainville, D. and A. Waddle (2009) “Moving Beyond Direct Marketing: Alternative Markets for Pasture-fed Beef” Invited presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Grass-fed Beef Conference. Staunton, VA Oct. 23-24. 250 attendance.
Mainville, D., G. Groover (2009) “Pasture-fed Beef in Virginia: What we’ve Learned.” Virginia Association of Biological Farmers Meeting. Invited presentation, Richmond, February 28.
Mainville, D. (2008) “Direct Markets for Beef in Virginia.” Virginia Cooperative Extension In-service Training on Direct Marketing Beef. Weyers Cave, February 13.
Mainville, D. (2008) “Direct Marketing Beef in Virginia.” Producer Workshop on Direct Marketing Beef. Weyers Cave, February 13.
Mainville, D. G. Groover (2008) “Pasture-fed Beef Production and Marketing: Economics, Issues and Educational Needs.” Pasture-fed Beef: Fact and Fiction session. Virginia Cooperative Extension In-service Training, Blacksburg, January 16.
Mainville, D. (Panel Organizer & Discussant) (2008) “Fresh Meat on the Market: Successful Direct Marketing Strategies for Livestock Products.” Women in Agriculture Conference. Weyers Cave, April 9.
Producers have benefited from educational programming about the economic characteristics of PFB production and marketing, enabling them to make better decisions about investing in the market.
Producers have gained access to information about processing options, a noted bottleneck, thus reducing their costs of participating in the marketing and enhancing their options.
Producers and other professionals have participated in educational programming about the alternative market outlets and what potential each holds, requirements to participate and particular challenges that Virginia producers might face in trying to enter each market.
Preliminary information about Hispanic markets has been disseminated to producers who are interested in possibly targeting these markets.
In addition to extension and outreach publications and presentations, research results and their implications have been presented at academic and industry conferences and are in the process or being prepared for submission (or already under review) for publication in relevant peer-reviewed journals.
Several additional projects built on the foundation provided by the SARE grant. Jared Burner, a M.Sc. student in Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech, built on the expertise and information generated through the project to do a master’s degree case study paper titled “Inventory Management of the Beef Carcass.” Following completion of his master’s degree he returned to a management position at his family farm, a specialty beef operation. One of the presenters at the educational workshops offered built on the presentation he developed for the workshop and published a taxation guide for direct marketers (of beef and other products) that was released as an extension publication (Whittle, Bill and Gordon Groover. Direct Marketers and the Virginia Sales Tax, VCE Publication 448-073. May, 2009. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/448/448-073/448-073.html). Finally, Bill Xue, a doctoral student in Agricultural & Applied Economics at Virginia Tech built on the expertise and information developed through the project and undertook his dissertation research on mainstream consumers’ demand for grass-fed beef. He was funded from complementary funding from an ARS project that involves Virginia Tech.