Wyoming is working on growing its beef brand inside and outside of the state.
Two years ago the Wyoming legislature passed Senate File 108, which was an agriculture and economic development bill. The bill included expanding agriculture marketing programs within the Wyoming Business Council. The legislation also provided funding for opening the Wyoming-Asia Pacific Trade Office in Taipei, Taiwan.
“One of the components of the bill was to develop a strategy for a medium-sized USDA meat processing plant,” said Ron Gullberg strategic partnerships director with the Wyoming Business Council. “To really help to expand markets and help the Wyoming beef industry.”
The state began with one processing plant five years ago and now has two USDA processing plants. The state will soon have five USDA processing plants, with one under construction and two in the planning stage.
To understand the needs of the state’s beef industry the Wyoming Business Council launched a study entitled “Wyoming Beef Industry Study.”
While the study found growth opportunities for beef, it also found obstacles in the lack of a skilled workforce for the beef processing industry and the problem of disposing of offal, waste or refuse material, from a processing plant. Some of the ways offal can be used are in rendering plants and pet food.
“We knew through some efforts to expand the beef markets in the last couple of years since the legislation was approved. The question kept coming up but what do you do with the offal,” Gullberg said.
The study concluded, growing Wyoming’s processing capacity is important but the state also needs to address the offal and skilled labor issues.
“You can’t just grow processing without addressing the other issues,” Gullberg said. “As it stands now with no offal production market in the state. The existing processors in Wyoming, have to pay landfill disposal fees starting at a $148 per head loss right off the top. So some of the data really hit home.”
The Wyoming Business Council is moving forward and has hired an Agri-business development manager who will tackle the issues found in the study.
The council will also be looking at a Wyoming “Born and Raised” verification program using individual animal ID like radio frequency identification or blockchain. Direct marketing to retailers in nearby markets including Utah, Montana, and Colorado. They will also look at the local food movement in high tourism traffic areas, where boutique butcher shops and craft beer marketing can be done.