11 Mar 2009

Water Chats -- The Rickerts

In this one-hour water chat [21MB MP3] I spoke with Jim and Mary Rickert and their son James in Bella Vista, which is 15 miles east of Redding. James, who has just started a formal career in farming, says:
My family and I raise a variety of crops in many different locations throughout Northern California -- we operate farms/ranches in the Butte Valley (northern Siskiyou), Fall River Valley (eastern Shasta), and our rangeland properties are located in the Sacramento Valley foothills, with ranches in Bella Vista (Shasta), Anderson (Shasta), Paskenta (western Tehama), Newville (western Glenn), Maxwell (Colusa), and Bear Valley (western Colusa).

Our main product is producing certified organic and natural beef, marketed under our ranch's label, Prather Ranch. We also grow a variety of hay crops (alfalfa, grass, timothy), wild rice, organic strawberry plants, peppermint and barley.
This talk was fascinating to me because I learned about:
  • Cutting edge beef production: The Rickerts know a LOT about each beef, and can trace your steak's geneology.
  • The use of animal parts in medicine: A cow hide is worth $1 million at retail. (Reminds me of the value-add difference between opium poppies in Afghanistan and heroin in NYC!)
  • Beef Markets: The Prathers reckon that about 75% of cows are sold via video auctions, which reduce damage to the animals and transport costs by moving cows straight from seller to buyer.
BTW, you can buy Prather beef (and burgers) at San Francisco's Ferry Building and other locations. I plan to break my vegetarian regime to eat one of those suckers.

Bottom Line: Farmers can and will innovate to create value, and their customers, community and environment all benefit.

photo by Cate Corbitt