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Virginia Tech Student Presents on Specialty Beef Markets at International Conference

Farm Business Management Update, August/September 2006

By Denise Mainville (, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Marketing, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech.

Ashleigh Waddle, a native of Saltville, Virginia and an undergraduate double-major in Animal & Poultry Science and Dairy Science, recently traveled to Buenos Aires Argentina, to present a paper on specialty beef markets at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s annual meetings. The paper, titled “Niche Market Opportunities for Small Farmers: Case Study of Virginia Beef Markets,” was co-authored by Dr. Denise Mainville of Virginia Tech’s Agricultural and Applied Economics Department and is the product of a semester-long independent study that Ms. Waddle completed under the supervision of Dr. Mainville.

In the paper, Waddle and Mainville analyzed four alternatives to commodity beef production, focusing on their relevance to small producers in Virginia. The four markets are grid-priced beef under retained ownership, natural, organic, and pasture-fed beef.

Ms. Waddle’s trip to the conference was funded by a Pratt Fellowship from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and by the Animal and Poultry Science Department. The scholarship funding enabled Ms. Waddle to participate in the Student Travel Grant program which involved several additional activities to enhance her and other grant recipients’ experience at the conference. Ms. Waddle plans to continue her research on beef markets in the coming year and hopes to travel to IAMA’s conference next year which will be held in Parma, Italy.

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