An Educational Program for Traditional and Non-Traditional Beef Production
Northeastern beef farmers are uniquely positioned to produce varying beef products with sufficient potential to consumers in a $600 million industry. A recent survey among 28 extension educators in Pennsylvania and New York with responsibility for delivering beef production and marketing information indicated a wide range of skills about environmental, human health, marketing, and basic production practices for traditional, organic, natural, and grass-fed beef. On a scale of “none” to “extensive” skill level, average responses were moderate or less. A followup “test” related to these topics resulted in only two educators answering all questions correctly. There is a defined need to provide additional skills for delivering information for both traditional and non-traditional beef production and marketing practices in the Northeast. The solution to a lack of skills among educators for traditional and non-traditional beef production is a method to educate, create learning opportunities, create information resources, and provide a forum for farmers to receive the information. The source of the information should include both farmer interaction and science-based delivery. These sources will allow a more complete skill set to emerge because on-farm information and experiences can be coupled with science-based data to allow delivery of complete information with more utility to producers. Delivery of information should be made directly as well as digitally. Thus, farmers can share expertise from other farmers while having unbiased data available to assess the possible impact on their farm, environment, customers, and markets.
A. Project participants have indicated a need for additional skills for educating beef farmers. Pre- and Post survey and testing will indicate participants increased needed skills by 75%.
B. 20 educators who build a wide range of skills related to traditional and non-traditional beef production systems will become proficient in delivering science based information to beef producers.
C. One thousand beef farmers, particularly those with non-traditional enterprises, will benefit from regional and local educational programs conducted by the trained educators. On-site and post-program evaluations will document quality of information delivery and adoption of information by farmers.
Project Performance Target: 20 educators who improve their knowledge and skills in environmental, human health, marketing and basic production practices for traditional and non-tradition beef production systems will proficiently deliver regional and local educational programs to 1,000 farmers with 25,000 cattle, and document the quality of information delivery and adoption of information by farmers.
The final phases of the project were completed in 2013. Participants previously received intensive training through webinars, lectures, and tours. This information was applied to a series of learning experiences for participants and farmers. Participants created educational tools to be used in their own programming efforts, as well as making these programs publicly available for other educators and farmers through web sites. A library of this information was compiled and is housed at http://extension.psu.edu/animals/beef. These entries include complete audio and visual lectures, fact sheets, Powerpoints, and case studies. Sixteen programs in Adobe Presenter format comprise a complete workshop on direct sales of beef, including six farmer-to-farmer presentations. A series of 24 articles on numerous beef production topics are available. Numerous other fact sheets and recorded webinars are included in the library.
Two regional educational conferences were conducted in New York and a statewide conference in Pennsylvania. These programs were planned and conducted by project participants. Additionally, seven local programs in New York and 10 local programs in Pennsylvania were conducted for farmers. These included management workshops, pasture walks, and issues management. Total farmer participation in these programs was 1100 farmers. Evaluations for programs and participant responses clearly indicate impact for farmers and improved teaching ability for project participants.
Milestones 1. Seventeen programs were developed for use by educators in beef production and marketing.
a. Basic Beef Genetics
b. The Clatterbuck Farms Case Study-Dairy and Beef Production
c. Consumer Attitudes and Purchasing Decisions
d. Head Health Worksheet
e. Cow-Calf Production Interactive Budgets
f. Cattle Feeding Interactive Budgets
g. Land Use Regulations
h. Organic Parasite Control
i. So You Want To Raise Beef
j. Transportation of Beef Cattle
k. Housing and Facilities
l. Marketing Beef Directly to Consumers
m. Selection of Beef Sires
n. Replacement Heifer Selection
o. Budgeting Grass-fed Beef Production
p. Ten Places to Find Free Money in Beef Production
q. Economics of Grass-Fed Beef Production
2. Local educational programs were planned and conducted. These included topics ranging from pasture management, reproduction workshops, fall management of cow herds, beef genetics, and bunk management in feedlots. Seven programs were conducted in New York and 10 were completed in Pennsylvania. Total attendance at these programs was 500 farmers.
3. Three regional and statewide programs were planned and conducted. These included the Farm to Fork Program in New York, the Winter Greenup Conference in New York, and the Pennsylvania Cattlemans Conference in Pennsylvania. Total attendance at these programs was 600 farmers.
4. A digital workshop was developed for direct sales of beef to consumers. The workshop was formatted in the Adobe Presenter format and includes Powerpoints, video, and voiced-over lectures. Eleven lectures cover topics ranging from tenderness to sire selection to pricing the carcass and cuts. Six presentations describe the programs of farmers who market beef directly to consumers and covers such topics as farmers markets, retail sales, CSA sales, and restaurant sales. The workshop is housed at http://extension.psu.edu/animals/beef.
5. A post test was conducted for participants after training and program development was completed. Scores were improved by 42% compared to the pretest. A survey of participant attitudes about the ability to conduct educational programs in beef production had the following results: Please score your answers 1 through 9 with 1 being the poorest, least or lowest, 5 being average, and 9 being exceptional, most, or greatest. 1. My level of experience and confidence in providing educational programs for farmers in traditional and non-traditional beef production before the project. 3.7 2. My level of experience and confidence in providing educational programs for farmers in traditional and non-traditional beef production after the project. 7.3 (+51%) 3. The value of the local and regional educational programs that were funded by the project. 8.9
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Outcome The training programs and the evaluation of both learning from participants and farmers clearly indicate objectives of the project were attained.