The Vermont Beef Producers Association held its annual meeting at the Vermont Farm Show in February. Chip Morgan, Vermont Beef Producers Association (VBPA) president, set a tone of optimism for the year ahead saying that the long-term beef cycle was near bottom last year and is on the way up again.

A day earlier, the USDA released its January Cattle Inventory showing a two percent increase in all cattle and calves across the United States while Vermont numbers remained the same.

Morgan sees great value in building the “Vermont Brand” in and outside of New England. He expressed eagerness to expand the association’s marketing strategy by adding a “Board Sale” to the standard on-site spring feeder cattle. In this case, cattle are sold directly from the farm via video. VBPA will also continue to encourage Vermont beef producers to provide cattle on consignment for the Fall feeder cattle sale in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The out-of-state auction offers an opportunity for sellers to be exposed to a large range of buyers outside of New England. The association will also provide transportation both ways if sellers don’t have the means to transport them. Billed as a first-come, first-serve opportunity, VBPA encouraged sellers to reserve a place in the auction early since early consignors are more likely to have lower shipping costs.

Morgan and VBPA past president Bill Emmons also told members that they both see the benefit of dairy farmers expanding their operations to include beef sales. Emmons noted that adding a beef herd can only benefit dairy farmers when milk prices drop. Emmons says, “The animal should work for you,” Emmons said.

The association also announced the hiring its Marketing Coordinator Maria Slattery. Slattery said that marketing is a growing concern to producers. Marketing solutions in the maple industry can be applied to other Vermont products and the “Vermont Made” label has a lot of value and using it to promote Vermont beef is a high priority, she noted. Slattery said that her focus is on building partnerships with the USDA, as well as nurturing VPBA’s budding agreements with both Pennsylvania and New York.