How two agribusinesses adapted to the unexpected

May 19, 2021

An unprecedented scope of uncertainty in the farming world dawned with 2020. But Canada’s agriculture sector isn’t new to crisis. From bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to crashing commodity prices, farmers and agribusinesses continue finding ways of getting through — and even prospering — in the face of the unexpected. 

Tessa Verbeek: a diversified approach

Tessa Verbeek’s family got into the Alberta beef industry in 2005 in the middle of BSE – a risk taken with the aim of buying low and selling higher as the industry recovered. The strategy was somewhat effective, though certainly not as much as initially hoped. Alternative income sources were sought.

At the time Verbeek — who now farms and ranches with her husband Colin and in-laws in Sturgeon County, Alta. — was heavily involved in 4-H beef clubs as well as a variety of other producer and community organizations. In part, this prompted the family to make inroads in the show cattle market. That meant focusing on different genetics, sales strategies, and even teaching cattle showing clinics.

“It was kind of born out of our passion for 4-H. And I love teaching and passing on skills,” says Verbeek. She adds the clinics didn’t bring an enormous windfall, but they did help pay the bills.

Amended sales strategy

Clinics still make up one of several facets of her family’s current farm business, sitting alongside grain production and bull sales. Selling calves for the show club market also remains a major part of their business.

With the pandemic, of course, opportunities to show cattle have been extremely limited. But a business strategy splitting sales between markets in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. proved invaluable.

“It was one way for us to make decent money on commercial cows that have later calves,” says Verbeek. “For our market, we sell steers and heifers to B.C. because they have later achievement days. We developed a customer base from doing clinics, getting to know people. We have a good mixture of earlier calves for Alberta and Saskatchewan customers.”

Click here to see more...
Subscribe to our Newsletters

Trending Video