Have you made the connection? You have read the headlines “Goat industry is the fastest growing agricultural industry in the Nation!”, “Goat meat and dairy products becoming more popular in food circles!”, “As Immigrants flock to Freedom in the United States, and meats such as goat meat become more in demand!” If you believe the headlines, then all goat producers should be making money hand over fist! We should have to lock our gates and post armed guards to keep our golden goats protected from thievery! What is the reality of our situation in the caprine industry? I am not involved in any dairy operations but I know some folks that are and from what I can gather, the dairy folks are maintaining or slowly gaining markets throughout the country. When I go grocery shopping I see more and more cheeses and such in the deli case. Goat milk is becoming more popular as folks who are lactose intolerant have come to find that goat milk is GOOD! I like it too! Goat meat is becoming more popular too, but you have to beat the bushes to find the markets for it. Yes, goat meat has become more popular among the health conscious and haute cuisine folks. Have you priced goat meat with the folks that do internet sales and in high-end groceries? Or any grocery or meat market that vends “chevon”? It’s pretty durned pricey, I’ll tell you! Two of the nicest folks I know, Dan Di Cicco and Lynda Kofford-Di Cicco of Toboton Creek Enterprises in the Seattle, Washington area, raise and process meat goats and sell their wares at the farmers markets in Tacoma and Seattle. They attest to the fact that there are two things that are keeping their raising and vending side of the meat goat business from taking off. Production costs such as inputs, meat processing, and haulage keep them from making a good profit from their operation. By the time the product goes on display at the market, costs have pretty much eaten up any profit and have make their product pricey, to boot! They would love to charge a reasonable price for their product, but feed and medications, butchering, and fuel keep going up! The other major factor that influences their business and all of the meat goat industry is the lack of industry protection by our government when it comes to imposing tariffs! That’s right, the folks that have sent millions of tons of Australian and New Zealand goat meat over to the good old U.S.of A. do not pay hardly any tariffs at all on the goat meat that they send over here. That is how they can sell their product so cheaply! Lynda gives an example of a Restaurateur who visits her booth at the Market and always compliments her wares and really says he likes the look of her fresh product. When asked why he doesn’t purchase any his reply is “Why should I pay so much when I can buy imported meat from my supplier for one fourth the cost?” Frozen goat meat from overseas costs $2-3 a pound, Lynda must charge $6-15 a pound depending on the cut of meat to even realize a small profit! American producers must scrimp and save wherever they can and suffer poor prices at the sales and the importers have almost no production costs, they mass process and ship the meat they package, and they get to pay only a “token” tariff on the meat they import. That is the result of our countries free trade policies. These policies, plus the stringent regulations on food preparation and shipping, have cost the meat goat industry in the production of a wholesome product at a reasonable price, and in retaining goat ranchers in an industry that is already being nickel and dimed to death. I know, I’ve heard the argument that if we slaughtered every goat in the U.S. that we could never meet demand. You can call me crazy (which many of you already have!) but I am of firm belief that if we, as an industry, unite and try to politically level the playing field, that we would find breeders coming back into the goat business and folks would start to retain those breeding nannies that have been rushed across the scales at a record pace. Prices would start to rise for good breeding stock instead of us facing fire sale prices for good goats. Folks would stop hanging the “Going out of the Goat business!” shingle out in front of their ranches. If breeders get together and start to make the connection between the obstacles facing our industry and the lack of cohesiveness between ourselves, then we might show progress in making a profit for all producers. Thank you for your support in our efforts to assist in the education of our Young Adults. The Freestone County Goat Breeders Association is selling Christmas Wreaths for our scholarship fund raiser. These are beautiful wreaths and we hope that you find them attractive also and help us in helping some hard-working youngsters to realize their dream of a college education. The price is $35 per wreath and can be shipped directly to your friends or loved ones. The order form for the wreaths can be found on our web site at www.freestonecountygoats.org. Mail your order form with payment to: FCGBA, P.O. Box 1553, Fairfield, Texas, 75840. Orders must be received by October 13th. If you have any questions or need assistance in regards to our fund raiser you can give Fred VanderMartin a call at 903-388-8528 or e-mail [email protected] or Gary Tugwell at 903-390-7780 or e-mail [email protected] The ETGRA will have its General Membership Meeting and educational program on October 17th. It will be held at SFA Goat Research Center, highway 259 north of Nacogdoches and begin at 10am. Topic of the program is buck selection and care, advanced reproduction and introduction to Artificial Insemination. Speakers include Dr. Erin Brown of SFA, Dr. Nuti of Prairie View A & M and Scott Horner also from Prairie View A & M. ETGRA Open Sale – October 24th, Henderson Expo Center, Henderson, TX. Sale begins at noon. Goat can be viewed at 10:30 am or so. Members of ETGRA, NETGRA, and Freestone Co. Goat Breeders Association are invited to bring their goats. Check-in will be from 1pm-7pm on 10/23/09 and from 7am till 10am on 10/24/09. Please go to sale information to review sales rules. For more information contact Paul Joplin at 936-347-3241. The ETGRA is having a raffle for a portable hayrack. Tickets are $5 each or 6 for $25. The hayrack was made by Greg Ashabranner and consists of three pieces. It can be assembled by one person in about five minutes and holds one square bale of hay. The hayrack is easy to move from pasture to pasture as you rotate your herd. The winning ticket will be drawn at the January, 2010 general membership meeting. Tickets will be sold at all association events. Tickets may also be purchased by mail, please include your name, address, contact phone number. Make checks payable to ETGRA and mail to P O Box 152937; Lufkin, Texas75915, for info go to www.etgra.com. NETGRA's Fall Celebration October 10th - Jackpot Show (Goats, Heifers, and Lambs) Hunt County Fairgrounds - See special events page at www.netgra.com for more info. NETGRA Catalogue Production Sale - NOVEMBER 14th, 2009. Location: Hunt County Fairgrounds, Viewing: 9:00am - 11:00am, Lunch: 11:00am - 12:30am, Sale: 1:00pm. Catalogue will be available on www.boergoats.com at a later date. See special events page at www.netgra.com for the special notice on consignments. Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. If you have any goat gossip then call 903-388-8528 or e-mail [email protected] . Bye, for now.