Routt County Beef-eaters can now buy fresh cuts of meat butchered from cattle raised in the Yampa Valley.
Recently, Yampa Valley Beef LLC sold three-and-a-half steer carcasses to the Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. That meat was cut into premium ground beef, chuck roasts, sirloin steaks, rib-eyes and T-bones for anyone to buy.
It marks the first time the public can buy Yampa Valley Beef fresh, and have more choices than ground beef or gift packages.
"We've always had gift packs, but our customers had to buy various cuts in combination," Yampa Valley Beef President Geoff Blakeslee said. "This is the first time a person can buy an individual steak."
Along with the meat deal, Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. will take care of delivery for Yampa Valley Beef.
"That's been a challenge for us," Blakeslee said.
Now the cattle cooperative, made up of Yampa Valley ranchers, will pay Steamboat Meat and Seafood for delivery instead of doing it themselves.
"We also want to develop with them some value-added products," Blakeslee said.
That means beef jerky, sausage, hot dogs and other meat products that need processing could be available soon, he said.
The move to use the services of Steamboat Meat and Seafood shows that business is getting better for local cooperative. Yampa Valley Beef began organizing ranchers to create a market for locally raised beef in the fall of 1997. It started making money in July 1999.
Later that year, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. announced it would buy all of its ground beef from Yampa Valley Beef, equaling 14,000 pounds. However, by the end of the ski season, ski corp. had bought 21,000 pounds of the product to cover the demand.
"Working with ski corp. is a significant part of our business," Extension Agent and Yampa Valley Beef member C.J. Mucklow said.
Though no deals for this winter have officially been made, Blakeslee is optimistic about ski corp.'s commitment to the company.
"All indications are that we're going to do business with them," he said.
Ski corp. spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said that customers really appreciated eating local beef and officials do want to use Yampa Valley Beef again this year.
"We hope to sit down in the next month and work out the details," she said.
Things also are looking good for beef producers who wanted to work with Aspen Ski Co. on a similar deal. However, Yampa Valley Beef probably isn't going to make any sales in Aspen, as previously expected.
The deal originated when ranchers from the Roaring Fork Valley and Rocky Mountain Beef and Homestead Beef, which are community beef companies in Delta County area similar to Yampa Valley Beef, asked the Aspen Ski Co. if it would be interested in buying local beef from the Roaring Fork Valley.
The ranchers used the Steamboat Ski Corp. deal with Yampa Valley Beef as an example.
Yampa Valley Beef officials thought they also might get to provide beef to Aspen to make up for what the other companies couldn't produce.
"That's probably not going to happen right off the bat," Mucklow said.
Blakeslee said the two sides will be feeling each other out with smaller sales until a larger deal can be made.
"They're kind of testing the waters with Aspen, and Aspen is testing the waters with them, but we hope it will happen," he said.
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