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Become a Price Maker, Not a Price Taker

This past weekend, I traveled to Buffalo, Wyo., to speak at the Johnson County Cattle Women’s 11th Annual Agricultural Summit.

It was a pleasure to kick-off 2022 with this wonderful group of passionate cattle ranchers, and I am still thinking about the information presented by my fellow speakers, the fellowship we enjoyed together as a group, and the joy of being together once again after a hiatus due to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

In my presentation, I shared examples of ways producers are being innovative, pivoting their business models, connecting and serving their customers, all while leading with positivity in their communities.

And I was so incredibly inspired by the entrepreneurs I met at the event. To further prove the points, I presented in my speech, I was delighted to see one of the ranching women run into one of her beef customers in the hallway after our session. 

Upon seeing each other, they hugged and had an animated conversation about how good the beef is and how much the family is enjoying having a freezer full of beef. I couldn’t help but smile as I witnessed the exchange, and it filled me with so much pride to see this producer become a price maker instead of a price taker. She has taken back control of her product — from pasture to plate — and she, in turn, is receiving a great premium while making priceless connections with her customers.

It’s a win-win, really, but it doesn’t come without its fair set of challenges, hurdles, hiccups, and roadblocks. There’s much to learn before selling beef to the public.

Regulatory red tape.

Inspections.

Location of processing facility.

The robustness of a local food market or access to urban consumers.

Packaging.

Shipping.

Marketing.

Pricing.

Consistent product availability.

Customer service.

And the list goes on.

Producers tell me — we’ve got to fix the system. It’s unfair. Producers are leaving the cattle business in droves.

I agree, our industry has some serious issues.

However, I’m not going to hold my breath that any politician is going to truly fix what ails our beef cattle industry or correct corruption in the system, if it exists.

So, while we fight the big fights for the betterment of our industry in the long haul, we must also ask how do we survive now, in the short-term? How to we innovate, pivot, connect, serve, and lead with positivity in such a way that we add value to our rural communities and strengthen our own businesses for generations to come?

The answer won’t be the same for everybody, but it’s been exciting to watch those who have stepped out of the norm and have entered into new markets where they are capturing more of the dollar from every pound of beef sold.

May we all be inspired to explore new pathways that could ultimately lead to greater success. It may not be what the neighbors are doing, or what Great Grandpa would have done when he established the ranch, but it may be exactly what your operation needs now to infuse some cash into the operation and generate more income for your family to live on.

Cheers to a year of creative entrepreneurs raising cattle, selling beef, and setting the new industry standard for ways to thrive during these uncertain times.

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