MERCER, Pa. — Beef producers in Pennsylvania now have an additional marketing tool in their toolbox.
The Keystone Beef Marketing Network is alive and working in Pennsylvania.
Local farmers learned more about the network at a meeting held in Mercer May 5.
Blaine Winger, regional representative for the Keystone Beef Marketing Network, said his job is to put people into contact with each other in order to gain the best price for a producer.
The program began in September in western Pennsylvania.
Winger said the network offers farmers another marketing opportunity in Pennsylvania they didn’t have before.
Winger is paid for through a grant, through the Pa. Department of Agriculture and the state’s Center for Beef Excellence, but works with United Producers Inc. to offer an additional avenue for producers. Glenn Eberly is Winger’s counterpart in central Pa.
“Producers know what they are going to get before cattle leave the barn,” Winger said.
Farmers can contact Winger and he will come out to the farm to look at the livestock to be sold,
For a $38 membership fee, producers can become a member of United Producers Inc. for one year.
“There is no commitment and no fee unless the transaction goes through,” Winger said.
He said once he views the cattle, sheep or hogs, he will use a network that is part of United Producers, along with some other outlets, to look for the best price. He can contact sales barns in Iowa and other parts of the country.
Winger said he doesn’t just market feeder cattle, he is also working to sell fat cattle as well, and is working with packers to get the best price.
He said by working with United Producers Inc., the producer is able to market their livestock with a co-op with a solid reputation.
“You know right up front what you are going to get and solid fees,” Winger said.
Besides marketing, Winger also works with producers to consult on health programs, breeding and vaccination programs.
Winger has worked in the cattle business his entire life and has worked in Texas and New Mexico. He moved back to the area to be near his family. However, one thing is surprising him about the cattle in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.
“The quality of cattle matches that of the cattle out West,” Winger said.
He adds that makes it easier to market them and get the producer the best prices.
The hardest part of the new initiative is trying to get small producers to work together so, in the end, the best price can be had by all.