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Saving the family dairy with grass-fed meat

You likely haven’t seen much news about the impact the economic decline has had on family owned and operated dairies, but Farm Aid notes that the recession has hit these small businesses particularly hard: the prices of milk paid by processors has dropped 50% since July, 2008. Add this to decades of decline in the small farm and ranch, and you’ve got a recipe for bankruptcy… or creativity.

Torm Siverson wasn’t ready to let go of the family dairy when he returned home to Marion County, Florida, to help his parents liquidate operations in 2006. He started looking into alternatives, and read about Waygu cattle… the source of Kobe beef. He saw an opportunity to not only save the family homestead, but to raise his children in an environment that reflected his and his wife’s values. Later that year, he founded Pasture Prime Waygu, a ranch dedicated to producing premium meats through sustainable, humane, and transparent practices.

The concept worked… now, instead of closing up shop, Siverson and family are working hard to meet demand for their meats. The first herd of grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free cattle is ready for butchering, and they’ve established an exclusive contract for pork from their Mangalitsa pigs. Siverson understands that he came across the right concept at the right time: he told the Gainesville Sun “Consumers are more educated about the negative aspects of ‘food factories,’ where animals, laced with hormones or antibiotics to stimulate rapid growth, are mass-produced. We raise our animals with concern for their health, our health, and the environment. People nationwide are embracing that concept.”

Know of other family farms, ranches, or dairies that have embraced sustainability… and avoided financial ruin in the process? Tell us about them… and buy from them!

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Image: Grass-fed cattle in New Hampshire Credit: iLoveButter at Flickr under a Creative Commons license