BORROWER UPDATE 2013: Greenfield Highland Beef
Greenfield Highland Beef, LLC comprises two farms, in Greensboro Bend and Plainfield, Vermont, raising prizewinning grass-fed Highland beef cattle. To control costs, Ray Shatney and Janet Steward decided to grow, rather than buy, the herd's winter hay. In 2010, the couple approached The Carrot Project and its lending partner, People's United Bank, to purchase a tractor that would allow them to hay on the Greensboro Bend farm's hilly terrain.
"The tractor has made a phenomenal difference," Janet says. Previously, the couple spent about $15,000 annually on purchased hay; now Ray is able to produce almost all of the herd's winter feed, resulting in a dramatic increase in feed quality. The animal's 100% grass diet makes for a superior product with distinctive flavor and health benefits. The haying also has environmental benefits for the farm, reduces external costs, and contributes to the farm's profitability and financial stability.
Demand for Greenfield's beef has increased sharply as a result: from selling 2-3 animals a year, they now process one animal a week, selling out of 80 pounds of fresh Highland hamburger weekly at a local co-op, and have diversified their marketing to restaurants, markets, and co-ops across the region. Ray and Janet attribute Greenfield's rapid growth to the unique traits of the Highland breed, saying, "The beef sells itself because of its quality". Their hard work to continuously improve the beef's quality through its grass-fed diet, and their improved business model as a result of The Carrot Project's loan, have certainly helped.
"The tractor is the workhorse of the farm," Janet says. "It has changed everything."
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