WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – More Native American ranchers have joined the Navajo Beef Program, which supplies beef to stores and restaurants throughout the Southwest.
The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) in a partnership with Labatt Food Service and Navajo Nation Leadership announced that the Navajo Beef Program now includes 23 Navajo ranching families raising beef. Labatt Food Service, the 10th largest food distributor in the United States, distributes the product and NNGE purchases beef to serve in its resort, casinos and restaurants. The program, which launched in November 2012, is projected to produce $2.3 million in revenue for the ranchers.
“We are proud to partner with local ranchers and improve their quality of life in conjunction with Labatt and our Navajo Nation leadership team,” Derrick Watchman, CEO of NNGE, said in a statement. “The Navajo Beef Program is part of our larger commitment to buy Navajo and allows our properties to better showcase world-class Navajo cuisine to the world while generating much needed revenue and jobs for the Navajo people.”
In its first year, ranchers participating in the Navajo Beef Program produced 545 head of cattle and generated more than $500,000 of revenue for the Navajo community. From 2013 to 2014, the herd increased by approximately 15 percent and generated approximately $750,000 for Navajo ranchers. Revenues for the third year are an estimated $2.3 million with 1,998 total head of cattle with the addition of more Navajo ranchers and their families in Arizona and New Mexico.
“The success of this program allows the ranchers to improve their lives and increase the quality of life in their communities,” said Al Silva, COO of Labatt Food Service. “It has been a privilege to ensure the hard-working local ranchers receive the fair payment they deserve for this high quality beef and are able to maintain their ranching way of life for generations to come.”
Navajo Beef Program ranchers use traditional beef production practices. Additionally, Labatt Food Service uses the Where Food Comes From source verification and labeling program to certify Native American Beef produced on tribal lands by a specific group of beef producers that satisfy certification requirements. Navajo Certified Beef is Choice grade or better and aged 21 days.
Ranches participating in the Navajo Beef Program include Padres Mesa Ranch in Chambers Arizona; 14R in the New Lands area of Arizona; Turquoise Grazers in Window Rock; and the H-P Ranch in Haystack, New Mexico. Travis Platero and his family live on the H-P Ranch. Platero is continuing the tradition of cattle production passed on to him by his father.
“My dad taught me in his own way how to be a good cattle producer and that’s what I’m trying to do for my kids,” Platero said in a statement. “It’s great that people are enjoying what we raised as a family. I know my dad we would be happy that people are enjoying his beef.”