Consumer interest in grassfed beef is on the rise. National studies indicate that the demand for grassfed beef has grown at an annual rate of 25-30% over the past 10 years, and local markets are stepping up.
Bass Hyatt raises cattle at the Hyatt homeplace in Brasstown, North Carolina. His multi-generational farm has adapted its farming techniques to meet consumer demand for beef that’s fed grass instead of grain. “The grassfed business is gaining strength every year,” Hyatt says. “People want natural beef.”
About 15 years ago, Hyatt met Jamie and Amy Ager of Hickory Nut Gap Farm. They specialize in grassfed beef, pastured pork, and poultry, and partner with farmers like Hyatt to meet their wholesale demand. Hickory Nut Gap buys meat from about a dozen partner producers to create a network of local farmers who are committed to producing high quality meat and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Connecting with the Agers offers Hyatt a market for his beef, so he can turn his focus to sustainable production and breeding cattle that thrive on grass.
Grassfed beef is often more expensive because it requires more farmland, and grass-fed cattle take longer to gain weight than grain-fed beef. Jamie Ager explains that “farmers have been told for the last 80 years that they needed to lower the price of production at all costs.” Instead of cutting costs, Hyatt continues to invest in his grass-fed operation. “Hickory Nut Gap has more demand than I have supply,” he says.
Hyatt and the Ager’s commitment to humanely-raised meat is an example of local partnerships that further the food system. Find out other ways farmers work together at www.asapconnections.org