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7 Reasons You Should Invest in Farm Shares

April 15, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve talked about community supported agriculture and farm shares with a wide range of people. I occasionally hear some variation of “but you’re selling something – you’re biased.” It’s true we’re crowdsourcing and selling our regular farm shares.

I suppose for much marketing that is true. But here’s the thing – it doesn’t make it wrong! Many things I’ve said have come true.  Observation of not only consumer action but agriculture events are moving towards what could be a bad thing for consumers. Sometimes it’s just tough to get through until it’s too late – and then we can’t turn back time!

(1). A great example of this is someone complaining of the price of beef. Last spring I tried getting folks to sign up for beef shares at $3.75 – nope, too much money I was told. Looked at a meat counter lately? And guess what folks – it’s not done! Two years of drought, reduced cow herd and since then a hit to the beef supply with a blizzard and other natural events. To start *now* the calves will cost more, so beef costs more…and prices rise. Seeing beef jerky recently at almost $8 per bag puts it rivaling price for the prime steaks. Ordinary ground beef is approaching $4 at the grocery meat counter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(2) Most of those outside agriculture aren’t aware of PEDV, let alone how it could affect their pork supply. As thousands of pigs die, that affects how many are available to market in six months. While it’s doubtful we’ll run out of bacon or pepperoni for the pizzas, it’s likely you’ll pay more for it. Added to increased costs for renovations of barns and it’s certain pork will go up in price. How much is a guessing game matter of opinion. If you want traceability now’s the time – after all it will cost to buy and raise them!

(3) With the increase in pork and beef prices, there will be increased demand for other protein. This means it’s likely chicken prices will go up. Production is looking good but choices are wide open. Planning ahead is a real good idea. It’s a chance to not only use chicken from the grocery but compare that to the outdoor raised birds and other options.

(4) As prices for other meats rise, comparatively it’s a great opportunity to try other meats that aren’t as much higher. Duck. Goose. Rabbit. Bison. When we price dressed rabbit at $20 for between 3-4 pounds, some think that’s high – but compared to where normal prices for other special meal options, it’s not!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(5) Heritage and heirloom options – preservation is critical. Society frets over 500 mustangs despite thousands maintained on private lands – and ignores those with less than 500 and none in other areas. From Gulf Coast sheep to Hereford pigs to most purebred turkeys, keeping the breeds active keeps those genetics viable. Selection for outdoor, small farm produced systems empowers food options. It’s not for the majority – that’s why it’s a niche, and to create a demand takes time. If even 25% of the population want a heritage turkey there would be no more – it would wipe them out in one year! But if you choose one, and a hundred others choose one, then it’s a means to increase breeding for next year too.

(6) Along with the niche markets must come small farms – this can vary from urban to microfarms to small farms with several adult members of the same family working together. Again – creating demand is more than saying “I want” – it’s says “I’ll buy.” It doesn’t ask “how much” it asks “what’s fair?”

(7) Don’t get caught in price. When I talk to folks about signing up for pigs, $700 gets met with “it’s too high”. Especially when it doesn’t include cutting. Here’s why we do that – for that $700 you get a dressed hog – about 180-200 pounds of meat. At 180 it’s $3.88 per pound. How you have it cut can affect how much you get. If you don’t want some cuts, that affects what you get back. If you don’t want the organs, hocks, etc it all affects what you get back. Some consider that waste, but it can also be extra from bacon, ham and sausage. This is food choices in action but look around folks! Even at 50 cents a pound it’s still under $4.50 for your *choices*. Doesn’t that count? Priced ham lately? How about specialty thick cut bacon? One of the local grocery stores has a current ad with boneless pork chops $3.99/pound. People say they’ll pay a little more to know how it’s grown. In action, it’s not that easy. Less than a dollar a pound changes things!

We all have food choices. Make yours.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. NJ from Austin permalink
    April 22, 2014 9:56 AM

    Jan,
    Don’t get discouraged, others will come around. Whether it be when they wake up to the fact that hand raised happy food is cheap at only $1 more per pound over that tastless terrorized product they are buying at the grocery store or when they realize the enormous difference in quality of the product.

    Joel Salatin also said something that has really influenced me and my decisions, “Everyday we can vote with our food dollars.” Regardless of what happens in the political process where votes can be bought by Super PACs of both parties, we have absolute control of who gets our food dollars. When the people that you reference that only “talk the talk” decide that they want to support local farmers with their food dollar votes, they will then “walk the walk.” Stay tuned, it will happen, I believe it will.

    Also, well said about the Heritage & Heirloom breeds and demand. I’ve never thought about that way.

    Thanks, I enjoy your blog tremendously, and good luck!

    • April 22, 2014 12:05 PM

      Thank you so much! Everyone has food choices, but the number that say they want nonGMO, small farm, etc doesn’t jive with reality. Several small operations are going under because the public is not supporting them. We’re hammering away at existing because of belief in what we’re doing. Some don’t like that we even sell feathers and fur – but using the entire animal doesn’t waste the life. We don’t eat the whole animal but can still use them. If we don’t use the heirloom breeds they will cease to exist as surely as the small farms maintaining them. Thank you for tuning in, visiting and commenting. Options are good.

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