Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
Beef -- It's Your Story
Oct 03, 2011
BEEF It’s your story.
Telling the REAL Story of Beef means telling YOUR story of why you produce the world's safest beef.
That story needs to be told at your local farmers markets and on-farm stores. If you don’t have time to attend a farmers market or the desire to open an on-farm store, why not hold a field day or pasture walk on your farm or ranch? Our consumers (meaning everyone’s customers) have questions about how our beef is raised. Depending on your farming or ranching operation, the consumer might be able to see some or most of how you do things before they even reach your doorstep.
Be mindful of how you present your farm or ranch to folks who are driving down your road. In the real estate world, it’s always location, location, location! In the land of lean beef, it needs to be presentation, presentation, presentation! If people drive down your road and see your cattle ankle- or knee-deep in "yuk," chances are they won’t stop and inquire about purchasing any product from you. If they do, that might just mean your neighbor’s farm looks worse than yours! Not only does it look purdy to have a straight fence line and strands of shiny wire, it’s a good way to keep your cattle where you want them. On our farm, it’s also come in handy to keep our neighbors' "free-range" dairy cattle out of our pastures.
We are constantly having folks stop at our farm and compliment us about our "clean cattle" and "happy pigs." Some folks have even asked if they can take pictures of our animals on pasture. I often think, is this that rare a sight?
As beef, pork and poultry producers, we need to take more pride in our animals and the farms they reside on. We all need to give consumers that comfort level of being able to buy local meat and dairy products without worrying about what conditions they were raised abd grazed in and how they were treated before the finished product goes on their family's plate.
When people drive by your farm or ranch and have a smile on their face, that’s a positive image for the whole industry. They might tell some of their friends about how nice your animals look and the pastures they are on.
On the other hand, if they drive by, turn their heads away and hold their breath until they're in the next county, you can bet your career they're going to tell everyone they talk to about how nasty "that place" looked and smelled and how terrible the animals looked.
If someone does approach you about how you raise your animals, remember, every question is an opportunity for you to deliver a positive message about the meat you produce. Don't lie! If you don’t raise your animals in a certain way, don’t tell the prospective consumer that you do, just to make a sale. Another important thing to remember is that in their eyes, you’re the expert. If you don’t know the answer to a question, direct them to a source that can help them, such as your county or state beef, pork or poultry council.
Having the right public image isn’t just good for business, it’s also good for the environment. As meat and dairy producers, we should be always mindful of doing things on our farms and ranches that will ultimately leave the environment in better shape for the next generation. Preserving our natural resources is as important to us as it is to most consumers. Grazing cattle and pigs more than doubles the area that can be used to raise high-quality food for our growing population.
Family farms such as ours and yours are the foundation of American agriculture. In fact, 97% of U.S. farms and ranches are still family owned and operated. Many cattle and hog farms have been in the same family for two generations or more. And I’m thankful to say there are quite a few that have more generations waiting to take the reins.