Promoting the development of economically and ecologically sustainable pasture-fed beef markets

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $198,652.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Denise Mainville
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing - rotational
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management


    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.

    Project objectives:

    • 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.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.