Via Grist.com, a Canadian billionaire named Frank Stornach is taking a long-position in the grass fed beef business, buying huge tracts of pasture in Florida with the aim of creating his own vertically integrated grass fed production pipeline.
Grist is unnecessarily skeptical of an otherwise good sign.
In case you had any lingering reservations, the investment is a sign that grass-fed is an economically viable business model. This guy has done the arithmetic for you. Grass fed is an economical way to raise beef considering the costs of production and the grwing consumer demand. For a farmer of any size who seeks to enter the grass-fed market, this all-in play by a billionaire is a good sign that the market will remain robust.
Nor is money a bad thing. To suggest that the scale of this Florida venture will jeaopardize sustainability is to be too suspicious, trending towards paranoia. Big capital investments do not necessarily mean that the grass-fed brand will be inevitably diluted. “Grass-fed” is an inherently sustainable model and irreducibly more humane than the commodity alternative. The manifold horrors of commodity production – superbacteria, animal stress and suffering, the waste lagoons – are the inevitable consequence of animal confinement. The beautiful marketing appeal of “grass fed” is that the name is actually a production method, a method which obviates, foreswears even, the disgusting and unpalatable consequences of animal compression. Grass fed producers cannot do otherwise – it is in the title of their product.
Investment in new ag is good when it is guided by the right kind of production ethos. Every pound of meat produced from the Stornach enterprise is a pound less of the feedlot stuff. Commodity beef is still a gigantic business, but for the first time its future is looking hazy – Americans are consuming less commodity beef than ever before. Suspend suspicion and cheer this guy on.