More than 100 years ago Scott Reesor s great grandparents left Ontario for the beautiful rolling Cypress Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan.
Today, Scott and his wife, Theresa, and their children are building on the beauty and history of their ranch with a diversified business plan. They have established a thriving guest ranch, built around an historic theme that enables them to share their heritage with visitors. They sell a small amount of beef off the ranch to guests and have expanded into selling bottled water from a spring on their land under the Reesor Springs label.
With many direct-to-consumer opportunities, the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program has become an important part of their marketing story.
Building on VBP
At the year-round guest ranch, the Reesors have an opportunity to connect directly with consumers that most beef producers never get. VBP complements the conversations and illustrates their commitment to livestock production.
With our combination of tourism and the cattle business, we just thought it was a win-win for us. It gives us a chance to educate visitors about beef, on-farm food safety and to build consumer confidence as a Verified Beef Production operation, says Theresa who is a passionate advocate for the cattle industry and their way of life.
People expect to eat beef when they come here so it is a great opportunity to talk about our beef and for them to take some Reesor Ranch beef home, she says.
The Reesors have become a standard bearer for the VBP program, discussing it with family, friends and neighbours. People see the sign on the property and on our website www.reesorranch.com and ask what that means. We are always looking for good things that we can talk about and good stories in the beef industry, says Theresa.
We get a lot of questions like What s that all about? Is that organic? she says. They take the time to explain how they raise their 100-150 head of cattle in a very natural setting.
The VBP process proved easy to adapt for the Reesors. After completing the workshop, they took the sample records and manual home to the ranch and haven t found much additional effort required in keeping things up-to-date. They were all things we were doing already, it was just a matter of recording it, says Scott.
After completing their initial validation audit they were happy with the process. It was a really good day with our auditor. We went through the checklist and covered all the food safety issues, medication, and withdrawal times in just a couple of hours, says Theresa. Aside from reinforcing the best practices already in place, they picked up a few useful tips.
Scott believes the majority of beef producers are already well versed in the Best Management Practices that are the basis of the VBP program. They may not realize it and look at VBP as more work, but it fits within most programs.
There is real industry potential if the marketplace recognizes the additional value to consumers of having a strong VBP program, Theresa adds. Market recognition of good stewardship practices could encourage consumers to eat more beef. That would add value to the producer s business and to the industry as a whole.