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Marketing to the consumer

The Goodyears have a long history of livestock production in Kansas. As a young producer just starting out, Phillip Goodyear knows that his business's success or failure depends on his consumers-whether that's a horse owner back East feeding a bale of brome, or a mom choosing a pot roast for her family's Sunday dinner.

Consumers, however, are faced with conflicting messages about farming and ranching from all fronts. And so, Goodyear encouraged all producers to get involved in their state livestock and commodity organizations and to make their voices heard in the arguments. Goodyear himself is a graduate of the Kansas Livestock Association's Young Stockmens Acadamy, and he knows the challenge of consumer education is tougher than ever for farmers and ranchers.

"We are keeping a viable voice and educating ourselves about what is going on in the world," Goodyear said. At the same time, he sees his new venture into natural beef as a way to be more open with consumers and educate them about agriculture. Goodyear explained he believes sharing his family's story with consumers will ultimately promote farming and ranching interests. And, producing a natural line of beef will help him open up that dialogue.

"We feel conventional beef is safe and healthy," he said. "I am going to pursue a natural line because I feel that is where the demand is going." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, producers can either take change by the hand or it will take them by the throat. "Pursuing a natural line of beef is me taking change by the hand," he said.

He advised others looking into niche marketing programs to remember, too, that if they give their clients what they need, they can make a living.

"But, if you give them what they want, you'll make a fortune," Goodyear added.

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