Mitta Valley beef farmers enjoy price advantages after forming a cooperative

In the green hills of the Mitta Valley, the beef farmers are “ecstatic”. Now is the perfect time to be a cattle rancher with prices at all-time high.

John Scales has been a cattle farmer in North East Victoria all his life and says he’s never seen anything like it.

“I remember getting $ 28 for weaned heifers once at a mountain ranchers sale and we thought it was pretty reasonable money because there was nothing in the cattle at the time.

“Now getting over $ 2,000 a head is beyond our wildest dreams.”

Mitta Valley Beef was formed in 2018 after farmers got fed up with their prices.(

ABC Rural: Annie Brown


However, the happy days were not always for the cattle ranchers of the Mitta Valley.

In 2018, Mr Scales and 12 other farmers in the area came together to form the Mitta Valley Beef Co-operative to get higher prices.

He said the idea came about after the group had been “crucified for years and years on our rejected heifers.”

“We found a few butchers who were keen on taking our grass-fed virgin beef and they agreed to pay us a higher price which was at least $ 1000 or better than the selling prices at the time. . “

Beef cooperative model

Mr Scales and his daughter Ebony Glass, who both run the cooperative, say the growers got on board easily.

“It wasn’t hard to set up because everyone was fed up with being used and screwed up,” Mr Scales said.

“It was like a big family group, and once everyone saw success, success spawned success.”

Ms Glass says the co-op works closely with the butcher to get the right prices.

“We would go every week, where we would send the cattle to the slaughterhouse, and then they were taken back to the butchers,” she said.

“Other producers who have set up a paddock on the plate cut them to customer specifications while we hand them over to the butcher’s shop. “

Cow in a paddock.
John Scales says this is his best start to springing up Mitta Valley in a long time.(

ABC Rural: Annie Brown


Since the start of the pandemic, the cooperative has reduced the number of cattle it sends to the slaughterhouse from eight to three per week. There was less demand from restaurants during the lockdown.

“We are now competing with unprecedented sales prices, which is wonderful, we are not complaining. But rather than being too hard on our butcher, we are asking prices similar to sales prices,” said Mr. Scales.

Meet the butcher

Wade Thompson is a Lavington, NSW-based butcher who has been at the “tail” of Mitta Valley beef production for the past two years.

He said the cooperative had been a great tool for his business as customers increasingly wanted to know the history of their meat.

“I jumped at the chance because so many people want to know where their meat comes from,” Thompson said.

A man in a blue shirt stands in front of a mural
Wade Thompson says the price of beef in his store has gone up 35 percent in the past two years.(

ABC Rural: Annie Brown


Even though the prices are a hit with producers right now, it’s a different story for butchers.

“The prices are the highest I have ever seen,” said Mr. Thompson.

“I have to be careful but I have to pass the price on.”

Mr Thompson said that over the past two years, the price of his beef has increased by 35%.

“People are more careful about what they spend, instead of buying six sausages, they could have four. They still buy the product, but not as much as they used to.”

Bet on prices

Mr Scales says he knows the market can change at any time, but believes the co-op is a reliable way to ensure he receives top prices.

“As we reach this peak, which is wonderful for everyone except the people who buy the meat. Mitta Valley Beef has become a fallback solution in case the market collapses,” he said. -he declares.

“We can bet on getting our money.

“I guess I’ve always been a little bit bullish and I think it can keep the prices going for five or six years, but there’s always this chance that something could go wrong, you just have to look at what happened. passed in Brazil with foot-and-mouth disease. “

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