Insight and Opinion by Jesse Womack via RanchNetwork.com
Right now, livestock producers have an ever-expanding array of marketing options for their animals. There are online resources, like ranchnetwork.com, traditional outlets, such as auction barns, direct sale options to order buyers, feed yards, or packers, televised auctions such as Superior Livestock and non-traditional methods such as farmers’ markets and CSAs. Of course, we here at Ranch Network, would love for you to sell your livestock through our website exclusively, but the reality is that not one of these marketing outlets will always be right for all producers in all locations, especially for smaller producers.
When looking at marketing options, producers today must maintain an open mind and look hard at the cost-benefit analysis. There are premiums to be had in the all-natural, organic, and grass fed markets, but do those premiums offset the added costs and/or lower productivity? There is a growing market for locally produced beef, but is one of those markets close enough to your operation for you to take advantage of it? Concern over hormone and antibiotic use is growing, but are the current premiums enough to offset productivity losses? On the other side, producers who continue their historical marketing practices without opening themselves up to all of the resources that are and will be available are probably missing out on increased revenue. Options for producers marketing less than load lot groups are more limited, but some of the new marketing avenues and resources may not place as great a need or value on full truckloads. These smaller producers will need to do more work and research to find alternative marketing methods that best fit their situation, but options do exist and are growing all the time.
Flexibility is a theme we return to again and again in this newsletter, and it rings true in this case as well. Flexibility and knowledge are absolute musts in marketing your animals. Producers without supplemental income will not survive without them. Trade shows, short courses, trade magazines, news outlets and computer literacy will help producers gain insight and expand their marketing options, which will increase the overall profitability of their operation.