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Grass Fed Cattle


Beef production in Missouri is beocming more and more specialized. K-S-M-U's Katie Hummel profiles two southwest Missouri farmers with contrasting cattle production methods.

She begins with Rick Hopkins of Marionville, Missouri.

RICK HOPKINS STANDS WITH ONE HAND SLUNG INTO THE POCKET OF HIS WORN-OUT JEANS : THE BOTTOMS TUCKED INTO MUD-CAKED BOOTS.

HIS TWO DOGS : WHICH COULD ONLY BE CLASSIFIED AS MUTTS : CIRCLE HIS FEET AND STARE UP AT HIM WITH OPEN ADORATION.

HIS HANDS ARE WEATHERED : WORN, CRACKED, DRY AND RED : THEY'RE WORKER HANDS.

RICK'S LONG-WHITE HAIR FLAPS BEHIND HIM AS HE WALKS TOWARD HIS RED PICK-UP TRUCK.

SPRINGY, LOOSE AND UNTAMED, RICK'S HAIR TELLS A LOT ABOUT HIS CHOICE OF LIFE.

LIKE HIS HAIR, RICK'S PASTURES ARE FREE TO GROW WILD.

NOTHING ADDED, NOTHING TAKEN AWAY : JUST NATURAL.

OTHER THAN THAT, RICK DOESN'T TOUCH THE PASTURES.

HE SAYS HE BELIEVES IT'S BEST FOR THE CATTLE.

RICK HOPKINS IS A MISSOURI FARMER WHO RAISES GRASS-FED COWS.

RICK'S FARMING METHOD'S ARE CONSIDERED UNIQUE IN SOUTHWEST, MISSOURI WHERE THE MAJORITY OF FARMERS PRACTICE TRADITIONAL GRAIN-FED METHODS OF CATTLE PRODUCTION.

RICK BELIEVES HIS QUALITY OF LIFE HAS INCREASED SINCE HE AND HIS FAMILY DECIDED TO PURCHASE A 100-ACRE FARM IN MARIONVILLE, MISSOURI.

AS RICK DRIVES AROUND THE FARM IN HIS RED PICK-UP TRUCK, HE POINTS OUT VARIOUS PASTURES OUTLINING THE BORDERS OF HIS PROPERTY.

RICK EXPLAINS THAT HIS FARM IS HOME TO A VARIETY OF DUCKS, ROOSTERS AND CHICKENS.

BUT RICK'S MAIN SOURCES OF REVENUE ARE HIS SHEEP AND CATTLE.

WE CROSS OVER A SMALL HILL AND THAT'S WHEN I SPOT THE CATTLE.

WE GET OUT OF THE TRUCK AND MAKE OUR WAY OVER TO THEM.

ACCORDING TO RICK, HIS CATTLES DIET CONSISTS ONLY OF WHAT THEY GET FROM THE PASTURE.

HE TEARS A SMALL HANDFUL OF GRASS FROM THE GROUND.

BUT IT'S NOT JUST THE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS OF THE GRASS.

RICKS CATTLE DO NOT RECEIVE VACCINES OF ANY SORT, NOR DO THEY GET PROTEINS OR EVEN ANTIBOITIC TREATMENT.

HE SAYS HE BELIEVES THE COWS ARE HAPPPIER THIS WAY.

BUT ASIDE FROM THE COWS STANDPOINT, RICK TELLS ME ABOUT THE OTHER BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH GRASS-FED CATTLE.

WHEN IT COMES TO FINANCIAL BENEFITS, RICK ADMITS THAT IT IS CONSIDERABLY CHEAPER TO RAISE COWS ON GRASS, RATHER THAN BUYING FEED OR GRAINS.

BUT RICK SAYS MONEY ISN'T THE ISSUE.

AND THEN THERE'S THE ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS OF THIS KIND OF PRODUCTION.

BUT HE SAYS IF ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC REASONS AREN'T ENOUGH, THEN CONSIDER TASTE.

AND THERE'S A POSSIBLILITY THAT EVEN YOU HAVE HAD THE BEEF.

RICK SELLS HIS MEAT TO A NUMBER OF RETAILERS IN THE SPRINGFIELD AREA INCLUDING AGRARIO AND PATTON ALLEY PUB, AS WELL AS THE SPRINGFIELD FARMER'S MARKET, WHOLE HEALTH AND O'CONNELL'S CENTER CITY MARKET.

KEVIN SPARKS IS THE HEAD CHEF AT AGARIO, A RESTAURANT IN DOWNTOWN SPRINGFIELD.

HE SAYS SUTOMERS NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE.

CUSTOMERS MAY NOT BE AWARE THAT A PRODUCT LIKE THIS EXISTS, BUT OTHERS CLAIM THAT THE PRACTICE OF GRASS-FED BEEF PRODUCTION IS ON THE RISE.

LAURIE GARMON IS THE ACTING DIRECTOR OF POLICY IN THE AG BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIVISION AT THE MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULUTRE.

GARMON SAYS THE NATURAL FARMING METHOD IS GROWING IN POPULARITY.

RICK ALSO SAYS HE FEELS THAT GRASS-FED BEEF IS PART OF A STABLE MARKET.

THE MARKET FOR BEEF IS A SIGNIFICANT ONE : WHETHER IT'S GRASS OR GRAIN FED.

THE PROCESS OF NATURAL BEEF PRODUCTION, THOUGH, LIKE RICK'S GRASS-FED METHOD, IS GROWING IN POPULARITY.

BUT GRAIN-FED PRODUCTION IS STILL THE LEADING BEEF PRODUCTION PROCESS IN THE U.S

STAY TUNED LATER THIS AFTERNOON FOR A CHANCE TO HEAR FROM A LOCAL GRAIN-FED FARMER LIVING IN SOUTHWEST, MISSOURI.