Georgia cattlemen initiate feasibility study
A group of cattlemen in the state of Georgia think enhanced producer control might mean opportunity for one of Georgia's largest commodities are looking at the supply chain to decide if there’s a better way to “finish” cattle here to give local farmers the opportunity to grow the estimated $3 billion industry.
The Georgia Cattlemen’s Association (GCA), along with Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB), Georgia EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, AgGeorgia Farm Credit, AgSouth Farm Credit and Southwest Georgia Farm Credit have commissioned a feasibility study to determine if statewide finishing and processing facilities—in which local cattlemen could own an interest—makes strong economic sense. The University of Georgia’s Center for Economic Development and Agribusiness is conducting the study.
Currently, Georgia’s cattlemen typically ship their herds to feedlots in the West, so the cattle can grow to an acceptable market size. The finishing process grows a cow by about 450 pounds and typically lasts between 120 and 180 days, helping to ensure a high-quality product for beef consumers. Cattle are raised in all 159 counties in Georgia.
“We think that financially, the opportunity to maintain ownership in the downstream process may make sense for area cattlemen,” said Will Bentley, executive vice president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association. “Eliminating the cost of shipping cattle out of state, combined with giving farmers the opportunity to own a share of the finishing process, could benefit Georgia's cattle industry. The feasibility study will help us understand if we are on track.”
GFB’s contribution to the study is part of the organization’s Harvest 20 Vision.
“Beef cattle are raised in every Georgia County, so a Georgia Grown Beef brand has tremendous potential to impact Georgia’s ag economy,” GFB President Gerald Long said.
During the GCA Convention, beef producers heard how similar plans have boosted growers of other agricultural commodities.
“We’ve seen vertical integration work in agriculture for a variety of row crops and other commodities and so we think there is the possibility that with the right business model, it could help grow Georgia’s cattle industry,” said Richard Monson, president of Southwest Georgia Farm Credit.
The feasibility study is expected to be complete during the fall of 2018.
“We’re looking at this as a way to grow agriculture, the cattle business, and to create jobs in Georgia’s rural communities,” said Keith Kelly of Kelly Products and Farm View Market, located in Madison, Georgia. “This is just the beginning - the study will help us determine if we should keep moving forward.”