February 2015 // Volume 53 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // v53-1tt7
WSU Meat Animal Evaluation, Analysis, and Technology Team Adding Value to Meat Products from Farm to Table: A Model of Successful Extension Programming
Meat animal (Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Poultry) 100, 200, and 300 programs are comprehensive educational programs that educate participants from farm to table targeting the learning needs for beginning, intermediate, and advanced producers. Topics include production management, animal evaluation, nutrition, carcass quality, quality targets, marketing, current issues, and consumer demands. As a result of these programs, a high percentage of participants indicated, not only increased knowledge, but also large increases in application outcomes.
Meat animal production is a significant part of the economy in the State of Washington. According to 2010 -2012 data of the Top Forty Agricultural Commodities in Washington, cattle and calves ranked sixth, valued at $687,664,000; eggs ranked at 15th, valued at $137,149,000; and broilers ranked 20th (USDA, 2013). From niche producers to large-scale commercial operators and packing plants, livestock producers, managers, and employees are seeking information to gain a better understanding of the food production chain from farm to table. To maintain livestock profitability and competitiveness within the U.S. and worldwide, training should be provided on meat quality, value-based pricing, and the use of new technologies and the latest research to address critical and emerging issues, regulations, food safety and quality standards.
To address these needs, the Washington State University Meat Animal Evaluation, Analysis and Technology Team (M.E.A.T.), in collaboration with almost one hundred industry professionals, presented Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Poultry educational programs (26 programs at six locations) to over 550 participants that addressed food production from "farm to table" starting in 2006 and expanding to comprehensive programing in 2011 through 2013.
Washington State University Extension, in cooperation with Oregon State University and the University of Idaho, offers three different courses for beef, lamb, and pork (100, 200, and 300) and poultry 100. These courses, targeting the learning needs of beginning, intermediate, and advanced producers, are designed to increase knowledge and skills of individuals involved in the meat animal industry to promote safe, high-quality production and expand marketing opportunities for animal products (Figure 1). These programs implement an extensive, hands-on experiential training method to ensure comprehension of topics and skills taught to prepare producers to successfully raise and market meat animals from "farm to table."
100 Programs (Table 1)
Participants in the 100 series receive basic education about meat animal production, including different production systems; genetics and breeding; feeds and nutrition; record keeping and budgets; direct marketing rules and regulations; health and diseases; and producing and identifying optimal products. Also, included in the course are discussions on "Do I have what it takes to raise and market meat animals? And how can I get started?"
|One Day Program 7:45 AM – 5:30PM||
200 Programs (Table 2)
The 200 programs cover the same material as 300, but are condensed into a day and a half program with fewer hands-on activities.
|Day One 1:45 – 8:30PM||
|Day Two 8:00AM – 4:00PM||
300 Programs (Table 3)
Participants in 300 programs receive approximately 30 hours of hands-on instruction addressing the production, processing, distribution, and merchandizing practices that affect the consistency, quality, palatability, and wholesomeness of meat products. This hands-on program enhances the understanding of attributes affecting consumer acceptability and ultimately consumer demand for meat products.
|Day One 9:30 – 8:30PM||
|Day Two 8:30AM – 8:30PM||
|Day Three 8:00AM – 8:30PM||
Evaluation of the Programs
Impacts of the various courses are evaluated on an ongoing basis using various planned program evaluations methods following guidelines of Roucan- Kane (2008) and linked to program and learning outcomes (Arnold, 2002; Radhakrishna & Relado, 2009). On-line evaluation tools and end-of program surveys are used to evaluate gains in knowledge, changes in behavior, and the economic impact of each of the four courses. Participants are asked to complete a survey within 2 weeks of completion of the course. A pre- and post-Likert type scale (Converse, 1987) is used to document knowledge gain on seven different indicators. A combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions is also used in the evaluation to determine what behavior (management and skill) changes producers have or intend to implement as a result in the program. After at least 1 year (but within 2 years) of participating in the programs, a long-term impact survey is conducted to determine what behavior changes have been successfully implemented and what the social and economic impacts have been for participants and the animal industries.
Impacts of the M.E.A.T. Animal Programs 2011 - 2013
2011 Learning Outcomes
One hundred percent of the participants in the Beef, Lamb, and Pork 100, 200, and 300 programs increased their knowledge in the following: live animal and carcass evaluation, record keeping and budgets, and marketing of beef, lamb, and pork products. Participants in Beef 100, Lamb 100, and Pork 100 had additional gains in knowledge in breed selection and genetics, and implementing a herd healthcare program. Of the Beef 300 respondents, additional gains in knowledge were made in fabrication and processing of beef carcasses, food safety measures, and adding value to beef carcasses. Additionally, 65% of Beef 300 respondents indicated that the program improved their perception of WSU Extension. One hundred percent of the Beef 100, 200, and 300, and Lamb and Pork 100 respondents rated the program as highly or moderately valuable.
Seventy-five percent of the 100 program respondents, 57% of the Beef 200 respondents, and 71% of the Beef 300 respondents reported that participation in the program would positively impact the economic status of their operation
When asked what changes participants planned to implement in their livestock enterprises after participating in the 100 level programs, responses included the following.
"I have done a much better job of rotating my grazing lots; I have altered my economic business plan based on recommendations from this program; and have begun the process to become organically certified in Washington."
When asked what changes that participants planned to implement in their beef enterprises after participating in the Beef 300 program, responses included the following.
"By following the recommended management practices, I plan to capture value added premiums and thereby improve the financial sustainability of my operation."
2012 Learning Outcomes
One hundred percent of the participants in the Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Poultry 100, 200, and 300 programs increased their knowledge in the following: breed selection and genetics; feeds and nutrition; record keeping and budgets; marketing of beef, lamb, pork, and poultry products; home slaughtering rules and regulations; and implementing healthcare and management programs. One hundred percent of the Beef 200 respondents rated the program as highly or moderately valuable, 90% of the Lamb 300 participants indicated that the program contributed significantly to their knowledge of the industry, and 100% of the Beef and Swine 100 respondents indicated the program contributed to their knowledge of the respective industries. Of the Beef 300 respondents, the greatest gains in knowledge were made in understanding live animal evaluation (78.6%) and ultrasound technology, followed by carcass evaluation (64.3%) and fabrication of beef carcasses (64.3%).
Participants in the Beef 200 program indicated they improved their budgeting procedures, are more thorough in their vaccination and deworming programs, constructed facilities to provide gentler handling of livestock, improved pasture management practices, and purchased a registered bull to improve herd genetics. Sixty-two percent of the Beef 200 program respondents reported that participation in the program would positively impact the economic status of their operation, 88% of Beef 200 respondents indicated it would be $250 or greater in the next 12 months, and 38% indicated it would be greater than $1,000. Fifty-six percent of the Lamb 300 participants indicated that they plan to capture high prices from their products by applying what they learned in this course, and 78% of the Lamb 300 participants indicated the course information would positively impact the economic status of their operation during the next 12 months.
2013 Learning Outcomes
100% of participants in the Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Poultry 100, 200, and 300 programs increased their knowledge in the following: breed selection and genetics; feeds and nutrition; record keeping and budgets; marketing of beef, lamb, pork, and poultry products; home slaughtering rules and regulations; value-added strategies; and implementing healthcare and management programs. One hundred percent of the Lamb and Poultry 100 respondents rated the program as highly or moderately valuable and gained some to considerable knowledge regarding poultry and small ruminant production practices, including participants who rated themselves as experts. Ninety percent of the Pork 300 participants indicated that the program contributed significantly to their knowledge of the industry. One hundred percent of the Agriculture Education Instructors indicated they would incorporate this information into their animal science curriculum for classroom teaching.
Beef 300 participants were surveyed one to three years after their program participation. The survey indicated: 86% increased their ability to market their products, 88% increased their ability to evaluate live animals, 87% increased their carcass evaluation skills, 100% increased their understanding of food safety and quality assurance issues, and 82% indicated that their perception of WSU Extension improved after participating in a Beef 300 program.
Comments from Participants
"Anyone involved in the beef industry (production or retail) should participate in this program. One of the best trainings I have every attended."
"We feel this type of hands-on education is crucial for our producers and will give the participant a much better understanding of the beef that they raise and market. This will ultimately benefit the consumer".
"I learned that a consistent product is absolutely necessary, which I thoroughly understand."
"Anyone selling lambs, even one lamb, should have to attend WSU LAMB 300---it was a very educational event about lamb evaluation, grading and marketing."
"I will definitely be attending the WSU BEEF 300 course because in my last 15 years of attending a multitude of educational workshops WSU LAMB 300 provided by-far the most practical information and skills that I can take back to the classroom and farm."
"Your program last year was outstanding! It was by far the best program I have ever attended as far as information we could use in our business. Thank you again and I hope you are getting the needed support for the great work you are doing."
"I have a Master's Degree and have attended many continuing education courses during my career. I found this program to be one of the most pragmatic and interesting courses that I have ever attended. No fluff, just good pertinent information."
"This is the best class I have attended since living here for 10 years. I hope there will be more in the future".
The series of workshops described here has been successful due to the expertise of the interdisciplinary team, locations selected, local supporters, and support from the livestock industries. The M.E.A.T. team will continue to present these workshops using this effective format that has great potential to be replicated in other locales.
The authors want to thank Jamie Callison, Executive Chef Washington State University, Pullman; Susan Kerr, NW Livestock and Dairy Regional Specialist Washington State University, Mount Vernon; Shannon Neibergs, Extension Livestock Economist and Director Western Center for Risk Management Education, Washington State University, Pullman; Sarah Smith, Extension Regional Specialist-Animal Sciences Washington State University, Ephrata; Matt Doumit, Professor Animal and Veterinary Science University of Idaho, Moscow; Jim Hermes, Extension Poultry Science Specialist Oregon State University, Corvallis; and Ron Richard, Vandal Brand Meats Manager and Instructor University of Idaho, Moscow for their contributions in program planning and as instructors.
Arnold, M. E. (2002). Be "logical" about program evaluation: Begin with learning assessment. Journal of Extension [On-line], 40(3). Article 3FEA4. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2002june/a4.php
Converse, J. M. (1987). Survey research in the United States: Roots and emergence 1890 – 1960. U. California Press- Berkeley.
Radhakrishna, R. B., & Relado, R. Z. (2009). A framework to link evaluation questions to program outcomes. Journal of Extension [On-line], 47(3). Article 3TOT2. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2009june/tt2.php
Roucan- Kane, M. (2008). Key facts and key resources for program evaluation. Journal of Extension [On-line], 46(1). Article 1TOT2. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2008february/tt2.php
USDA. (2013). Washington annual agriculture bulletin. Retrieved from: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Washington/Publications/Annual_Statistical_Bulletin/annual2013.pdf