Beefing Up the Business

Beefing Up the Business

Two young farmers are innovating to keep a family cattle farm viable for the next century.

Jared Luhman has grown up with a passion for the family farm. But with agriculture becoming less and less lucrative, the fifth-generation beef cattle farmer at Dry Creek Red Angus Farms in Goodhue and wife Valerie—both with degrees in agriculture from the University of Minnesota—knew they needed to look for new ways to keep farming viable.

The American Farm Bureau says farmers and ranchers across the U.S. are facing losses, receiving only about 15 cents of every dollar Americans spend on food. To see a bigger portion of the nation’s food spending, farmers have to innovate. So the Luhmans, both in their mid-20s, purchased Grass Fed Cattle Co. in March from its founders, with the goal of selling premium beef direct-to-consumer, retaining more of the actual dollars consumers spend on food.

Grass Fed Cattle Co. sells bulk grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken from Dry Creek Red Angus and three other local farms, delivering it straight to consumers at pick-up locations in Edina or— starting just last month—via direct delivery. A beef subscription service is also new to the menu, with biweekly, bimonthly, and monthly offerings.

The business is small—in the low six figures in revenue at the time of the Luhmans’ purchase. Growth will come with environmental benefits, say the couple. They use a pasture-based carbon farming system, which takes excess carbon—a main contributor to climate change—from the air and “buries it” in the soil, where it helps the crops that feed their livestock. This system also means a reduction in the fossil fuels burned, because the grazing cows act as the harvester, manure spreader, and fertilizer.

Customers are invited to visit the farm. It’s part of the Luhmans’ goal to grow agricultural education and trust.

“We’re building something,” Jared says, “with the next generation in mind.”