‘Meat Your Beef’ Farm Tour continues | TSLN.com

‘Meat Your Beef’ Farm Tour continues

The beef checkoff, through the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), hosted the second "Meat Your Beef" retail and foodservice influencer immersion event for May is Beef Month at the Gibbet Hill Cattle Company in Groton, Mass., on May 14. The first "Meat Your Beef" event took place one week prior at Hedgeapple Farms in Buckeystown, Md., on May 7 and was made possible through a partnership between the NEBPI and the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.

The 2013 checkoff-funded Consumer Image Index tells us that consumers are becoming more and more interested in meat production and how their food is produced. Bridging the gap between retail and foodservice influencers and beef farmers and ranchers increases the transparency of the industry, which is the primary objective of the "Meat Your Beef" events. An in-depth tour of the SpringDell Farm and Gibbet Hill Cattle Company provided the channel influencers with a unique opportunity to see a modern-day working beef farm literally from pasture to plate. All the calves born on the farm are retained for finishing and are direct marketed through the farm's retail market, SpringDell Farm Market located in the neighboring town of Littleton, Mass.

Paula and her eldest daughter Jamie Cruz own and operate SpringDell Farm and the Gibbet Hill Cattle Company. In addition to fruit and vegetable production on the farm, their livestock production concentrates on cattle, hogs, poultry, goats and lambs. The meat from their livestock is sold directly through the farms various CSA programs, the roadside farm stand and several local restaurants. A major part of the niche market is also being able to give consumers an understanding of what it is like to raise livestock for meat.

After lunch at the Gibbet Hill Grill, co-sponsored by Streetmarc Advertising, Marketing and Promotions LLC., of Westport, Ct., attendees had the opportunity to openly ask questions relating to beef production and the cattle industry to a panel of cattle industry experts. Jane Clifford, member of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and owner of Clifford Dairy Farm in Starksboro, Vt., served as the panel moderator. Panelists included Lucinda Williams, former Chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and owner of Luther-Belden Dairy Farm in Hatfield, Mass., Paula Cruz, owner of Gibbet Hill Cattle Company of Groton, Mass., Linda Gilbert, member of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and owner of Gilbert Angus Ranch in Buffalo, S.D., Dr. Kent Anderson DVM, consulting veterinarian for the Vermont Beef Producers Association and Bridget Wasser, Senior Director of Meat Science and Technology for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.

Linda Gilbert said, following the event, "As part of the largest consumer group in the United States, the Northeast consumer is much more current and involved in the food market. They obviously establish a rapport with the retailers and the retailers are very accommodating to the consumer." Gilbert believes "the retailers' intense relationship with educating consumers and helping them find that positive eating experience of the beef cuts is a huge part of the demand beef continues to enjoy." Regarding her own experiences on the ranch, Gilbert observed, "the same challenges are faced by the multi-generational retailers as we face on our multi-generational beef production ranches. Building beef demand is a goal the industry, from producers to retailers, can achieve together."

Scott Bosselait, Meat Director for the 6-location Donelan's Supermarkets based in Littleton, Mass., commented following the tour, "That was an engaging opportunity that I am glad I did not miss. The chance to have all the different aspects of the beef business under one roof and be able to access all their knowledge was fantastic. I walked away with so much information, more than I have learned in a very long time."

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Wasser followed the producer panel discussion with a beef cutting demonstration to highlight the added value of merchandising the beef chuck roll into the value-added Sierra Cut, Denver Cut and Country-Style Boneless Ribs. Wasser also demonstrated the variety and versatility of alternatively merchandising the beef ribeye into small, leaner portions leading to more meat case and menu options. Christie Brown, Director of Promotions for the checkoff's Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative concluded the event by presenting on how the power of millennials impacts the retail and foodservice industries.

–Cattlemen's Beef Board