Feds Want Transparency in Grass Fed Meats Industry

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there are over five million head of sheep and lambs in the United States, and more than 2.6 million goats. A trend is raising these animals in grass fed production systems, especially for small to mid-sized producers.

In response to the changing and widening marketplace, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will begin releasing the National Monthly Grass Fed Lamb and Goat Meat report through their USDA Market News service today, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.  This is one of the first reports of its kind, filling a significant data gap for the industry and increasing transparency in the marketplace.

It is estimated that half a million sheep each year are channeled into the nontraditional marketplace – such as ethnic and direct-to-consumer markets.  Often these nontraditional markets offer premiums to farmers and ranchers over traditional marketing channels.  Small to mid-sized producers and farmers, in particular, often use direct-to-consumer markets to get better prices for their products, while creating their own niche in the marketplace.

While there is an increase demand for these types of products, there is little public data available to farmers and ranchers.  With this new market report and improved access to information, USDA aims to assist farmers and ranchers who are considering converting to grass fed operations and those who are already producing grass fed lamb and goat products.

In addition to market commentary, the new report will include prices for both wholesale grass fed lamb and direct-to-consumer grass fed lamb and goat.  This monthly report will bring market clarity and exposure to assist the grass fed industry in marketing their products.

To complement this national report, North Carolina is releasing a monthly Pasture Raised Lamb Report. This report provides state-level data showing pastured protein prices available directly from producers to consumers on a retail basis and adds to the collection of USDA Market News reports that cover locally and regionally produced markets.

USDA is committed to supporting businesses of all sizes. Fostering marketplace transparency is just one of the many ways we meet this goal. USDA Market News makes our nation’s commodity markets one of the most transparent in the world and provides critical market intelligence. This year marks the 100th anniversary of USDA Market News. These new reports are one example of how Market News works to ensure that everyone in the agricultural supply chain has the information they need when they need it.

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