WACO, TX — Texas cattle ranchers have experienced loss due to the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.
But a Central Texas family may have the secret to saving the cattle business in Texas.
What is it?
You won't find Craig Travers' cattle in a fancy little shop.
Instead, he'll sell you one right out of the pasture.
"Yeah, it's cheaper to buy from the local rancher. How cheap? You take it to your local processor and it's way cheaper. By how much? by about 2 thirds," said the rancher.
Best of all, he calls his herd Texas born and bred.
The Travers family started looking for new revenue when the market price of their cows cratered.
"It was never something we were interested in, and you start thinking about diversifying your portfolio," said Heather Travers.
So she's preparing to sell individual cows to individual buyers.
The problem is the big packing houses, which have laws written in their favor, limit their competition.
One small slaughterhouse in Marlin has started taking on work that bigger plants can't get to.
"We're a custom exempt plant here so we can custom slaughter for custom purposes."
So, entrepreneur and former Marlin Mayor John Kieffer, came to the rescue.
"Right now, we're looking at July. Right now, we've got some slots that we left open...and we're filling up very quickly," he said, when asked about his plant's ability to outwork competitors.
Other packing houses in Waco and the surrounding area report a 6-month backlog.
Meantime, Heather Travers has begun the groundwork for her boutique cows.
"If we're gonna start it, we're gonna make sure we follow all the rules and we're providing a product that we can continue to do so," she explained.
The Travers family says it's important to "eat local" when your neighbor's livelihood may depend on it.
"All grass-fed here. No preservatives, no antibiotics, just good old Texas raised beef here, said Craig Travers.
More ranchers across the country have begun to take notice, and this business keeps growing every day.