WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Through the collaboration of the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) along with both Labatt Food Service and Bashas’ supermarkets, Navajo American Beef will now be available for purchase at local-area Bashas’ stores and on the menu at local restaurants.
The Native American Beef program, part of the Labatt Food Service, provides technical assistance for interested ranchers to ensure their cattle is at a choice or prime-grade before sale to their communities. Currently, there are 42 Navajo families from 23 ranches participating in the program.
“The Native American Beef program is essential to the Navajo Nation, not only because it has created jobs, but now the People will have another product available to them that is locally sourced within the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.
Vice President Jonathan Nez noted that having high-quality Navajo Beef available for purchase at Bashas’ speaks volumes for tribal sovereignty and retaking control of the food system.
“There is an opportunity for Navajo farmers to get their produce into the supermarkets on the Navajo Nation, as well,” Nez said. “Our administration and the Navajo Nation Council appropriated revenue from the Permanent Trust Fund Five Year Plan to bolster farming communities. It’s empowering to see Navajo food products for sale at supermarkets on the Navajo Nation and it is our hope this effort will continue to grow.”
Ken Monacelli, director of the Native American Beef program, said on behalf of Labatt, he thanked President Begaye, Bashas and the Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise for working with them to bring Native American beef to the community.
As of Dec. 19, 2016, the USDA reported that the national average rating for Prime beef is 6.9 percent and choice beef is 69 percent respectively. Rating for cattle from the Navajo Nation was 97 percent for choice cuts and 25 percent for prime cuts. It took five years for the Navajo Nation to improve the genetics of the cattle through the help of the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture.
OPVP Chief Operating Officer Robert Joe said the distribution of Native American Beef at local-area Bashas is a great example of a collaborative effort among numerous entities to generate a revenue stream for all parties.
The parties involved are the Navajo cattle ranchers, Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation, Premium Source Cattle, Labatt Food Service of San Antonio, TX, Bashas, Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprises, and the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture.
OPVP is appreciative of Labatt Foods for following the Nation’s vision for Navajo Beef and securing distribution for premium quality meats produced on Navajo ranches at tribal supermarkets.
“Congratulations are in order for the ranchers that produce Navajo Beef,” Nez said. “The Healthy Diné Nation Act opened the door for us, and today, we are seeing progress as a direct result of that effort.”