Concerns haven’t slowed beef sales |

Concerns haven’t slowed beef sales

News of meat recalls and concerns about mad cow disease have had little, if any, impact on plans to market locally grown, grass-fed beef in Nevada and surrounding counties.

The cattle industry in general has also shown resiliency in the past few weeks with strong market prices. The going rate for cattle initially had dropped after the Dec. 23 announcement that a single Holstein on a Washington state farm tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy – mad cow disease.

High Sierra Beef, the consortium of more than 40 cattle ranchers in six central Sierra counties, still aims to slowly start distributing its beef by this fall.

But the group is no further along than it would have been if the recall had not happened, organizer Dan Macon said.

Macon works for the USDA National Resources Conservation Service in Auburn and helps coordinate the High Sierra Beef project. The goal is to complete a business plan by April and start a test market by this fall, he said.

“The bottom line is … beef consumption nationally is strong and will continue to remain strong,” Macon said.

The proof may be in the price. The weekly rate for “fed cattle” – or those ready for slaughter – is one indicator of how the industry is faring, said Ben Higgins, of the California Cattlemen’s Association.

Last week, cattle were going for for $80 per 100 pounds. Last fall, producers were only getting about $65 to $70 per 100 pounds, Higgins said.

“We consider $80 to be a very high market,” he said.

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