Where's the beef? More Wisconsinites want it locally raised

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
An increased consumer interest in buying locally raised beef has some beef producers looking to expand that market.

Wisconsinites are clamoring for beef and looking more and more for local sources for all agricultural products, as can be seen by the explosion of interest for the Farm Direct Wisconsin Facebook group.

Chris Pollack, from Ripon, who farms with his parents Larry and Deb on Pollack-Vu Dairy, has some beef that will be ready to be processed this fall or winter. He knows he has to get that booked with a processor soon since some butcher shops are booking into November 2021 due to the increased demand for local meat following the pandemic. 

"There's been a lot of consumers out there reaching out to farmers that have beef, trying to get cuts or quarters or halves out of concern there is going to be a meat shortage," said Pollack. "At the same time the local butcher shops are getting backed up."

What used to get booked two, three or four months in advance, now is booking into the fall or later. 

Chris Pollack hopes to take advantage of the increased interest in locally raised beef.

Pollack said that's probably one of the most interesting aspects that's stemmed from the pandemic, the increased demand for locally grown beef. 

While some may wonder if that demand will still be high after the pandemic when the image of empty shelves in the meat department have faded, Pollack said there was a growing demand for locally grown beef even before the pandemic. 

"I think as time goes on, obviously we're going to have an influx of people that want that, that locally grown beef now, but I think even after the pandemic is kind of settled down, I think there's consumers that are going to realize the opportunity there is in buying local," Pollack said. "I think there's a growing demand for people to know where their beef is grown and where they're processed and that whole local aspect of being a consumer."

Pollack said he had five pieces he sold as quarters, halves or whole beef this year and he "could have probably sold that many more over again with the growing demand here as of late," he said.

The increased interest in local beef has changed Pollack's plans for the future of his herd. 

"I'm certainly trying to look ahead to make sure I have an option for processing forward and marketing more on my feet that way to help sort of grow that niche in the market that puts a little bit more money in my pocket compared to selling to the stockyard," said Pollack.