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Abstract

Cow-calf operations are important enterprises for family farmers in Appalachia and provide significant opportunity for supplemental income. This analysis constitutes a thorough economic assessment of pasture-raised beef production, an alternative to traditional production that could benefit the region's producers in terms of profitability and mitigated risk. Stochastic budgeting was utilized for profitability and risk comparison between traditional and pasture-raised operations and accounted for seasonal variability in prices, pasture availability and animal performance. Pasture-raised systems, in relation to traditional ones, were shown to consistently yield higher returns over variable costs and were shown less likely to yield losses over total costs in typical production seasons. Economic risk for pasture-raised producers stems largely from production factors but, overall, is seemingly less pronounced than the market risk faced by traditional producers selling live cattle.

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