- Animals: goats
- Farm Business Management: feasibility study, market study
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 of animal 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 wiliness 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.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. In year one, create data base, develop a survey instrument for producers, processors and consumers and identity 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 throughout 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, identity 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.