Strengthening Opportunities Along the Meat Supply Chain to Promote Sustainable Agriculture in Intermountain States

Project Overview

SW21-921
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2021: $349,994.00
Projected End Date: 03/25/2024
Grant Recipients: Colorado State University; Oregon State University; Montana State University; University of Wyoming; Cornell University
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Becca Jablonski
Colorado State University
Co-Investigators:
Thomas Bass
Montana State University
Cody Gifford
University of Wyoming
Jennifer Martin
Colorado State University
Martha Sullins
Colorado State University Extension
Dr. Caitlin Youngquist
University of Wyoming

Commodities

  • Animal Products: meat

Practices

  • Education and Training: decision support system
  • Farm Business Management: business planning
  • Sustainable Communities: values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    Evolving consumer interest in more localized and sustainable meat production, particularly in the time of COVID-19, is creating new market opportunities for livestock producers, meat processors and other meat supply chain participants. Studies throughout the United States have documented consumer willingness to pay for sustainability attributes and specialized production and handling methods, but the skills and resources needed for producing and processing livestock, and selling meat products profitably into local food markets (defined as direct and intermediated market channels) are difficult to access and adapt to values-based, consumer-focused business models. 

    Leveraging the Niche Meat Processor’s Assistance Network’s resources, as well as Cornell University’s NESARE-funded work in Massachusetts, this project will create financial benchmark and pricing resources that support advanced training curriculum and improve meat supply chain coordination in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. We will do this by integrating restricted access farm financial data into educational programs and materials, thereby increasing producers’ access to and ability to act on local food market channel opportunities that best meet the comparative advantage of their operation. In addition, we will convene stakeholders throughout the meat supply chain in an effort to improve coordination, reduce transaction costs, and thus improve producer profitability. Specifically, this portfolio of education and outreach activities will include: 1) two regional meat conferences (modeled after the highly successful Carolina Meat Conference); 2) online meat school classes to reduce risk and support producer profitability in new markets; and 3) augmenting Cornell’s online pricing tool with cost of production data to support improved decision making around markets channel selection. 

    This project includes two research objectives (RO) and three education objectives (EO): RO1) Evaluate how a large, multi-sectoral event such as a meat conference (incorporating at least 400 producers, meat processors, and meat supply chain stakeholders) results in measurable changes in connections and relationships throughout the meat supply chain, including across rural and urban stakeholders; RO2) Examine multiple years of USDA ARMS data and conduct empirical analysis to investigate how participation in local food market channels (i.e., farmers market, other direct, retail, distributor/institution), as well as operation / producer characteristics, and locational variables impact the profitability of livestock producers in the Western U.S. The Education Objectives include: EO1) Enhance at least 60% of producer attendees’ knowledge of and connections to meat supply chain partners within Colorado, Montana and Wyoming through a multi-state meat conference held in 2021 and 2023; EO2) Assist at least 90 livestock producers (30 in each state) in identifying and managing production, processing and marketing risks to their meat businesses through targeted classes on sustainable livestock production practices, strategies for improving meat processing, and identifying and building new markets for their meat products, with at least 60% improving the profitability of an existing or new marketing channel; and EO3) Encourage and instruct at least 30 livestock producers (10 in each of 3 states) to understand and estimate their costs of production, and develop retail and wholesale pricing models to assess and improve their profitability in different market channels.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives:

    1. Evaluate how a large, multi-sectoral event such as a meat conference (incorporating at least 400 ranchers/producers, meat processors, and meat supply chain stakeholders) results in measurable changes in connections and relationships throughout the meat supply chain, including across rural and urban stakeholders. 
    2. Examine multiple years of USDA ARMS data and conduct empirical analysis to investigate how participation in local food market channels (i.e., farmers market, other direct, retail, distributor/institution), as well as operation / producer characteristics, and locational variables impact the profitability of livestock producers/ranchers in the Western U.S.  

    Education Objectives:

    1. Enhance at least 60% of livestock producer/rancher attendees’ knowledge of and connections to meat supply chain partners within Colorado, Montana and Wyoming through a multi-state meat conference held in 2021 and 2023.
    2. Assist at least 90 livestock producers (30 in each state) in identifying and managing production, processing and marketing risks to their meat businesses through targeted classes on sustainable livestock production practices, strategies for improving meat processing, and identifying and building new markets for their meat products, with at least 60% improving the profitability of an existing or new marketing channel. 
    3. Encourage and instruct at least 30 livestock producers (10 in each of 3 states) to understand and estimate their costs of production, and develop retail and wholesale pricing models to assess and improve their profitability in different market channels.
    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.