Beef Producers Involved in Local Food Research

01/2/2013

Photo courtesy of Guindon Farms of Cornell, Michigan. (view larger image)

Photo courtesy of Guindon Farms of Cornell, Michigan.

Moving Michigan toward its Good Food Charter goal of Michigan farmers supplying 20 percent of food in Michigan markets by 2020 involves a lot of people and businesses in many different sectors. One area of emerging Michigan research is grass-fed beef production.

Even though grass-fed beef products fetch premium prices, farmers can still end up losing profits because of production and marketing challenges.

Enter Michigan State University’s Lake City Research Center, in Missaukee County, specializing in pastured beef research. With a new three-year grant from North Central Region-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the research center is on a mission to help northwest Michigan identify and address issues that keep pastured beef from reaching its full regional potential.

Benzie County livestock producer Paul May shares an unexpected element crucial for pastured beef. “Worms are without a doubt the most important livestock out here; their castings have the perfect mineral profile,” he said of how worms support pasture productivity and nutrition of his grass-fed beef system. “I’ve got to have them.”

Lake City Research Center Staff will soon be out in the fields with 20 participating northwest Michigan beef producers, helping them get their pastures into shape and cattle finished for market. To address challenges on the buyer side, they will also partner with meat processors, food distributors, and chefs in the region to work out snags in their systems. The project will generate real-life data by tracking 200 head of cattle from participating farms in Northwest markets as they move through the supply chain , said coordinator Jason Rowntree.

“Ultimately, we have to put pastured beef through the entire system — from production methodology all the way to culinary preparation — to see the areas that become bottlenecks in terms of logistics and costs,” Rowntree said.

For more information, check out the research center online at agbioresearch.msu.edu/lakecity.