Grass-fed cattle ranching in Texas : characteristics and motivations of ranchers

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Riely, Andrew Carrington

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Grass-fed cattle ranching is growing in popularity, but the characteristics and motivations of the ranchers, however, remain undefined. Based in Texas and using a mail survey and interviews with three grass-fed, three organic, and three conventional ranchers to identify some of their distinctive characteristics, this study achieved similar results to those comparing organic and conventional farmers. Grass-fed cattle ranchers tend to have high levels of education, approach ranching as a second career, and possess outside income sources. Motivated as much by ethics as economics, they embrace grass-fed methods primarily because they believe them to be healthiest for animals, humans, and the land. They eschew organic certification primarily because they perceive government regulations to be influenced by large conventional competitors, and they market their beef directly, often locally. Although many hope to expand their herd, most grass-fed cattle ranchers believe they are resisting “conventionalization” and say that they feel more self-sufficient and satisfied thanks to their choices.



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