David evans

     

On Friday, April 3rd, I had the chance to lớn catch up with David Evans, local rancher và operator of the cất cánh Area’s only “abattoir," or slaughterhouse. I wanted to talk with him about his business, Marin Sun Farms, & its status now that it has acquired the Petaluma slaughter facility. The followingtranscript shares our discussion.

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GIM News: 2014 was an eventful year for Marin Sun Farms, with the purchasing and consolidation of operations at the Petaluma facility. What was going through your mind the night before the purchase was finalized?

DE: What could go wrong, thoughts of how could this not happen gave way to lớn what are the next steps in a long danh mục of next steps. I realized immediately that this slaughter facility, under Marin Sun Farms ownership, would be the gateway for local meat supply khổng lồ reach California markets more seamlessly, and at a time when demand is soaring & supply is burgeoning. The last remaining cất cánh Area meat processing facility would be the funnel by which most high quality California meats would flow khổng lồ market.

GIM News: You have described purchasing the Petaluma slaughterhouse as a “dream come true.” We will come back khổng lồ that endeavor shortly. Before we do, can you take us back a few years and share when the vision of owning & running a full service abattoir came to you?

DE: Returning from college, I worked two years on the family farm. That was when my passion for natural resource & pasture management grew & led me to a grass-fed mã sản phẩm of beef production. It took three years of R & D (research và development) before I had a hàng hóa I could directly sell to lớn customers. That was around 2003. From that point on, the dream or the need for a processing facility was always there. Grass-fed meat was exploding on the market và the real road block for delivery was processing. I shifted my attention from production to processing and the màn chơi of control that having a harvest facility would provide.GIM News: Now that Marin Sun Farms has the facility in Petaluma has your mission changed?

DE: Marin Sun Farms’s mission is to lớn contribute in building a more sustainable future through local food & building resiliency within local foodsheds. Marin Sun Farms has accomplished this by investing heavily in processing; being positioned between livestock và market to facilitate that connection and become a gateway for what we term 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, and Food-shed sourced meats. The abattoir was the scarce resource và the most difficult lớn obtain when envisioning what I wanted to accomplish with Marin Sun Farms.

GIM News: As a community of livestock ranchers, there has been a perennial discussion about bottlenecks in processing of meat products, from harvesting, to cut và wrap, lớn distribution. Bởi you see bottlenecks currently và if so how can they be removed?

DE: With Marin Sun Farms taking over the slaughterhouse and adding carcass fabrication, cuts, packing, there is now a readily available option to lớn accomplish all of the needed service being demanded. Because we only have a limited number of processing facilities, there is an inevitable bottleneck, but no rancher is getting turned away, capacity is yet khổng lồ be fulfilled in multiple facilities & the area/region does not have enough supply lớn currently tư vấn any additional slaughter facilities.

GIM News: As follow-up, what is the status of Marin Sun Farms’ plans for mutli-species và organic processing?

DE: The Marin Sun Farms Petaluma Facility was Certified Organic by MOCA on March 25, 2015. We are now preparing khổng lồ begin Certified Organic, multi species meat processing. Even before that, we have been processing goats, sheep, và hogs in addition to lớn beef.

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GIM News: Where bởi vì local dairy cows fit in with this Marin Sun Farms’s plans?

DE: Further build out & maximizing the Petaluma facility capacity will come through Organic dairy beef. This is a dairy region, we are known for local dairy products & our history of expert dairy farmers. From this comes high chất lượng beef that the market will demand. Marin Sun Farms is looking at how khổng lồ fulfill the larger market demands for Organic beef through the Petaluma Facility and looks forward to lớn doing this with the area dairy farmers. GIM News: I am curious if there is such a thing as “too big” or too much concentration? What I mean in asking this, is that the meat industry has experienced statewide và national level vertical integration that has made it difficult for the local producer và processor to be competitive. You have really turned the tables on this trend, successfully recapturing customers and markets for integrated locally based ranching và processing. Is there a sweet spot or optimum form size in the scale of integration that provides a place for local small khổng lồ medium ranchers?

DE: I believe this will always be a struggle with such high concentration in the national & global meat industry, but Marin Sun Farms và other small branded meats are chiseling out niches và re-gaining market space once lost to the consolidation of the big three lớn five packing companies. This is why the Marin Sun Farms take over at the slaughter and processing segment of the industry is so significant. Because in having control over slaughter và processing the veil khổng lồ market access is breached & now, unlike the past 30 years or more, any small rancher can bring one head of livestock to lớn our facility, obtain services for slaughter, carcass fabrication, packing, & have that hàng hóa distributed anywhere is the world. That allowance of market access has not existed prior to lớn now for niche branded producers in California & surrounding areas. The sweet spot will be getting the Petaluma slaughter facility to full capacity and focusing on strategic controlled growth. Until we get close to lớn full capacity, we are vulnerable khổng lồ failure.

GIM News: Describe or define what you mean when you say branded meats.

DE:Branded meat communicates a product identity that carries with it company brand values. This creates a relationship from pasture to lớn plate, from rancher lớn consumer, that enforces consistent expectations regarding a narrative story of efforts and values represented from land resource management, livestock husbandry & handling, to processing & packaging, and final delivery.

GIM News: David, you are a leader in grass-fed beef production and communicating khổng lồ the community and consumers the value of local ranching và products. What changes have you seen over time in what your customers value?

DE: Customers are looking to connect with the source of their nutrients to lớn find true nourishment. Branded meat offers insight, transparency, education, access, participation, và evolution. 100% Grass-fed ruminant livestock continue in high demand although customers have become understanding of Pasture Raised as an acceptable alternative to balance local supply, tư vấn local farms, and continue to lớn invest in food-shed resiliency. Certified Organic & Non-GMO are very important to lớn customers, yet viable production models lag behind demand. The local Organic Dairies are and will play a larger role in our local/regional beef supply. Pig production is showing major comeback in our region after being almost nonexistent 10 years ago. Poultry is showing large comeback as well. & goat is offering a new meat option. All of this growth is proof of how changes in consumer demand & the development of producer branded meat have grown this niche in the market.

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GIM News: There is a price point for the producer & processor that support operational viability and the livelihood of area ranches. There also is a price that makes access to lớn healthy local food affordably. It has not been easy khổng lồ have the two prices be the same. What are ways Marin Sun Farms & the community of producers are contributing khổng lồ these two objectives for the local community?

DE: Costs are higher for small producers/processors và always will be. This increased cost must be returned in the final sale price, making these foods more expensive. This is inevitable. The most successful contributing efforts to lớn battle this dilemma have been: education & stimulation of customers in eating a broader array of whole carcass cuts. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), cooking demos, và sustainable eating education which helps mở cửa up choices for consumers khổng lồ try new cuts of meat và new experiences. Instead of demanding the cheap ribeye, make the choice for accessibly priced stew, roast, offal, or broth! Also, as meat companies grow there is greater necessity lớn move perishable surplus parts và pieces, which get sold at a discount into the market, bringing ultimate sale price và accessibility by a broader spectrum of consumers. With growth will come increased synergy, accessibility, & affordability. But good, highest unique food will always be more expensive than the lower quality alternative. There are large strides being accomplished in either consumers spending more of their income on food và health or eating smaller quantities of more expensive meats. Also, as we talked about earlier, when the volume of Organic beef from dairies increases broader access will increase.

GIM News: The next group of new farmers and ranchers are stepping in khổng lồ leadership responsibilities and roles. From your experience, what are the critical skills they need to be successful and what are sources of motivation they can tap into to when things are difficult?

DE: to lớn be successful they will need to be innovators. I believe we are going lớn experience the most change in agriculture over the next 30 years that this country has seen since the post WW2 era of agricultural change. Branding of food is going to revolutionize the entire food/agriculture industry so entirely that food & agriculture--and khổng lồ some degree health--will be synonymous. Critical skills will be strong educational fundamentals and, I think, college educations will become common place for farmers/ranchers to compete in what I think will become a highly competitive environment. Sources of motivation will be lớn carry on family legacy through innovation, and in a change for the better, economic opportunity, including improved lifestyles. People will be drawn to lớn the farm & ranch lifestyle lượt thích never before, since Jefferson’s Agrarian Ideal. The opportunity lớn pursue that lifestyle while contributing to lớn such meaningful change in natural resource management, food, và health will be contagious