Our Customer's Perspective
January 30th I announce that were going to start butchering our animals raised and sold through Nature's Gourmet Farm website and we are building an on-farm carcass cooler and fabrication room to complement our new freezer!
February 6th our farm newsletter was about the positive impact this will have on our animals especially at end of life as well as how it positively impacts the quality of their meat and our farm's long term viability.
Last week I wrote about Your Farmer's Perspective and received a lot of comments. A sampling includes:
* We just enjoyed reading your weekly email. My parents and I look forward to receiving it every Saturday morning. I read it to them while they eat their breakfast. Mom asked me about the difference between lard and leaf lard and thanks to you I could tell her! That got me to wondering if you are already processing your lard or if you will be now that the processing is moving to the farm. Thanks so much for all you do
* Very exciting to have your wonderful farm near me . Having your own processing plant is awesome for all of us .
* Hey Ben, So proud of u. I graduated Petal HS in 1973. Great to see someone doing a great farm business in Petal.
* Loved this week's newsletter presenting a view of your work toward installation of the processing plant. I am soooooo in awe of you and Beth and how far you've come in the last ten years! Wow! My best to all of you on the Farm!!!
* Bravo!! Thank you Ben, Beth and team. We are grateful for you!!
* Ben and farm family/crew, I hope this email finds everyone safe and healthy and in good spirits. I am writing to express how happy and excited I am for your progress in moving towards a “closed system” for farm to consumer. Knowing that the animals will soon be processed on-site, by their caring handlers hands eliminating the stress from transporting them to a processor, is such a positive. This makes me even more happy that I found Nature’s Gourmet Farm in my search for the most nutrient-dense foods I could feed my family during our visit to MS. I look forward to visiting the farm on our next visit, and seeing the “upgrades” in person! Congrats again, for being such a wonderful steward for local, sustainable, ethical farming!!!!
Today, let's continue the discussion from "Our Customer's Perspective".
Better quality meat:
For our customers on-farm slaughter will offer higher quality meat. When animals are stressed it raises the pH of the meat, changes the water holding capacity and lowers the quality. Livestock slaughtered on-farm avoid all of this resulting in higher quality meat for the consumer.
Another benefit for our customers is that once we bring the processing in-house we have more control over our costs and have eliminated more waste. This means we can keep our prices lower bringing high quality meat to the table at reasonable prices. Last Spring during the pandemic my beef processing price increased 17%. I had no choice but pay or go out of business because there was no other option available and plants were scheduled out 18+ months.
We are often asked for custom cuts of meat that the volume production line butchers don't want to waste their time with. Doing the work ourselves means we can offer this extra level of service and specialty cuts for our customers.
High Cost of Hired Processing:
The cost of hired processing is substantial part of our gross income. Every year I look at these numbers. The one thing I can do a lot about is cutting the cost of processing. If we do our own on-farm processing we can improve our farm financial future without raising our prices and without growing big. This means we won't have to increase prices which helps our customers too.
Vertical integration helps keep more of the money on-farm and gives our customers better prices and higher quality.
We have breeding herds of livestock and this means that biosecurity, keeping our animals healthy, is doubly a concern. We have spent many years selectively breeding our pigs to improve our genetics. It is unavoidable that the slaughterhouses are going to be a concentration point for disease. Every time we go to another slaughterhouse we risk bringing back disease on our boots.
The limits of transport and available slaughter schedules have held back the growth of our farm. Our customers need consistent availability of fresh meat, not just when the butcher wants to process. Without consistent processing we can't grow our farm. Our goal is to remain a small family farm but we must do enough sales per week that we are able to achieve economies of scale that make farming pay a livable wage. At nearly 64 years old, high on my priority list is having a business that is attractive to our boys. That means the farm must be financially viable to support them.
On-farm processing removes the processing bottleneck while giving added value to our pastured animals. This means that more of the income stays here on the farm. Through vertical integration of breeding, raising the animals on pasture and on-farm processing we make our farm that much more regenerative. And, our slaughter waste will be composted and then spread back out on our pastures. What a great benefit!
As our customer, we would also like to hear from you! What is your perspective or what benefit do you see for your family?
Consumers today are searching for food from sources they can trust. At Nature's Gourmet Farm you can expect us to be TRUTHFUL and TRANSPARENT to earn your TRUST.
Construction Update: This is our door to the walk in freezer. It is 5' wide and built very efficient. I was so glad to see this installed this week.
This is the inside of our freezer. The ceiling and walls have been completed and the contractor is well underway on our pick area. The right end will hold our personal freezer items (which will eliminate several upright freezers from our farm). There will be 98 pick bins. Bins will be reusable plastic containers with great air flow to allow quick freezing of meat. Around the outside walls will be plastic pallets that will store plastic bins of meat. The bins will nest & stack and allow us to easily pull the oldest inventory first to fill orders. I will have so much more room to maneuver vs. our current freezer.
Next - the contractor will finish the pick area and then start installing the metal on the ceiling & walls to the fabrication room.
Join me next week as we consider our "Communities" perspective.
Feb 27 Community Think about it - "If the animal is not raised right OR processed correctly it can't be delicious."