Antique wagons, McGregor Ranch, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Antique wagons, McGregor Ranch, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Gary Karmer.

Author Allan Nation’s view of the learning curve shows the potential downside to being too ambitious without doing your research first. In his version, naive enthusiasm leads to total despair. In other words, take a good look before you leap into marketing your own beef.

As stated earlier, the conventional beef marketing system is not set up to deal with small producers. So even though this country has an excellent infrastructure for transporting, processing, packaging and distributing beef, it means nothing to you. It costs almost as much to ship 100 pounds of beef across town as it does to ship 1 ton across the country. These are frustrating, but important facts. You will need to get used to reinventing the wheel, because, at least in this case, the wheel wasn’t designed for you.

Actually it’s even harder than that. Not only do you have to reinvent something, but you also are challenging the status quo. 

As in all industries, there are good people and bad people. You will probably run into a few of these bad apples along the way. They’ll probably be rude; they might laugh at you, or act condescending and tell you that you will never make it. Try not to take it personally, and don’t let their negativity rub off on you.

The majority of folks who try to market their own beef run into a few of these obstacles, get frustrated and quit because “it’s impossible.” It’s not impossible. It might be crazy, it might be work, and it might ruffle some-one’s feathers. But it’s not impossible. What it will be is creative. Just plan on having to customize every little step, from pasture to plate, and take nothing for granted.