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Beef demand on the rise, local ranchers say the pandemic is partly to blame

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Posted at 4:50 PM, Apr 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-17 20:57:24-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — According to the latest Texas A&M AgriLife Texas Crop and Weather Report, stronger-than-normal seasonal demand for beef is driving fed cattle prices upward. We check in with local ranchers to see what the bull is all about.

From the pasture to the processor, K. D. Bar Cattle Company in Caldwell says demand right now is difficult to keep up with and getting meat processed is a challenge.

"The biggest problem is there is a shortage on the processing plant and being able to get stuff into the processing plant," Joe Dowling, Rancher and Owner of K. D. Bar Cattle Company said.

Dowling says the interest from folks wanting to know where their meat comes from has increased popularity on local farmer's markets which has added a little more stress on processing plants.

"Normally, I have a big walk-in freezer full and right now, at the bare minimum, I'm waiting to get 6 heads back from the processor," Dowling added.

Dowling says he raises cattle himself, takes it to the processor, picks it up and sells it directly to the consumer and says much of what he sells goes extremely fast.

"Normally I do the ground beef...all the sausages...grass-fed long horn...people like it because it's lean. Plus I also have bison. If they want high end, we also have grain fed-wagyu. The steaks and the high-end wagyu sells extremely fast... I cannot keep them in stock. Briskets...I cannot keep them in stock." Dowling said.

Dowling says more and more people are shopping local because they know where their protein comes from and will pay to know those details.

"People want to pay a premium for it," he said. "They were willing to pay a premium to get what they want to know how it was raised, how it was treated, what kind of shots it had," Dowling said.

Similarly, to Dowling, another vendor selling meats at the Brazos Valley Farmers Market says at the peak of the pandemic when grocery stores were running out of meats, it forced people to think of another option, like supporting local.

"COVID has really opened up people's eyes on the food chain. When COVID first started my sales increased from 1st quarter to 2nd quarter by 130%, it was phenomenal. We have been trying to play catch-up ever since then," Christine Martin, Owner of Regen Ranch said.

For the female owned and operated ranch, Christine Martin spends a good amount of time educating her customers and says its exciting for farmers and producers, especially at the Brazos Valley Farmers Market where she regularly sets up shop.

"Just in the last year...we went from (farmer's market) averaging about 10 vendors to now we're averaging about 40 vendors. We've even got a few meat vendors and we still can't produce enough to satisfy the demand," Martin said.

Local ranchers and farmers says more and more people are learning they have another option and can learn more about where their food is coming from.