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What is a cowoporative?

A cowoperative is a group of people together raise a cow or cows cooperatively.

Why “Cowoperative’?

I can’t find any evidence of the word “cowoperative” on the Internet, so maybe I invented the term, but I think that I actually got it from a Seth Godin podcast.

The term is a simple combination of cow and co-op. It works well and is catchy.

There are lots of reasons for the project:

  • Food security
  • Reduced cost
  • Hands on experience
  • Higher quality beef
  • Sustainability

Food security is probably the least important issue. I’m not worried about the sh*t hitting the fan and the world coming to an end,. I’m pretty sure the grocery store will keep selling meat. But, I like the idea of knowing where my food comes from, which is why I also grow some of my own vegetables. I like to know what’s in my food as well.

Reduced cost is relative. Grass fed organic beef is more expensive than industrially produced feedlot beef, and I feel that a co-op approach can reduce that cost somewhat.

Hands on experience is always fun for a guy like me. I like doing things myself, whether it’s building my house, building boats or doing self-guided tours through the wilderness. I’m an involved, hands on guy.

I believe that a cowoperative would result in better quality meat than I get from a grocery store. I may not be correct on that, but until I’m proven wrong I’m sticking to that story.

Sustainability is also important to me, but there are lots of aspects to it. One that strikes me is the idea that raising grass feed, high quality beef may allow someone who wants to live a rural lifestyle may be helped by urban people who want to push the edge of the envelope and cut out middlemen. A rancher who is in partnership with a consumer may be able to create a more sustainable lifestyle than one who is subject to the whims and practicalities of bigger agri-business. Again, I don;t know that, but until I’m proven wrong that’s the story I’m sticking with.

The Plan

My idea is to pool the resources of a variety of people to raise beef for mutual benefit. The urban people would provide the capital and the rancher would provide the land and expertise. Rather than paying the rancher a cash fee for raising the animals we’d be cowoperative partners. Members of the cowoperative would be involved in all aspects of the process, even helping the rancher when practical. The logistics need to be hammered out, but the idea would be to raise a herd of a certain size, take it to slaughter, and divide the meat.

What I don’t know about are the logistics of raising cattle, which is why I need some expert advice. Do we buy a bunch of calves in the spring and slaughter them in the fall? Raise them for 18 months to two years? Buy heifers, breed them and build a herd? I don’t know, yet.

What I do know is how to think outside the box and bring talent together, and that’s what I’m working on now. I know I can get a group of urban people to participate if the numbers are acceptable. What I’m missing is someone in the Interior with some cow sense.

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