Hawaii is Beefing Up its Potential to Produce More Meat Locally

McCandless Ranch on the Big Island has faced plenty of change in its more than 100 years of operation. Its 66,000 acres have been divided up, its cattle herded from the hills to the coast and its animals — once born, grown and slaughtered in Hawaii — have become part of a cow-calf operation.

Such cow-calf operations became the norm in Hawaii as ranchers responded to a dearth of slaughterhouses and an absence of feed mills to sustain their animals. In such operations, herds are kept at a relatively fixed number of cows to produce calves that are sold to mainland operations when the animals are about 10 months old.

Cattle are Hawaii’s third most valuable agricultural commodity, worth about $44.8 million in 2017, though a history of having to respond to the whims of greater market forces has forced ranchers to constantly adapt to new changes in the supply chain. And for the past 30 years, cow-calf operations have been the best way for ranchers to make a living.

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