'Rez to Rail' offers workshops for Navajo ranchers
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - There are many educational seminars and workshops, but there is none better than the "Rez to Rail" series, now synonymous with Navajo ranchers as the ultimate in hands-on education. The Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture (NNDA), the University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension, Navajo Technical College and the Risk Management Agency Outreach, will once again sponsor the "Rez to Rail" workshops from March 24-26.
"Rez to Rail" appropriately refers to cattle being raised on the reservation and eventually ending up on the rail destined to a slaughter facility. The workshops will attempt to answer questions such as: How do Navajo cattle compare to the industry's best? Where do our cattle fall short? What improvements do we have to make?
This three-day event will provide the public with an in depth view of the cattle industry and will cover the current economic trends as well as the future of the industry. Workshops will include a variety of topics including cattle reproduction; horse management, range evaluation, beef quality, and sheep and goat meat quality.
These workshops will be conducted along the "Rez to Rail" tour, beginning at V Bar V Ranch in Camp Verde, then proceed to the Tohono O'odham Nation (60 miles west of Tucson) and conclude at the UA Meat Laboratory in Tucson. Each venue will offer a different work sessions and hands on learning for the participants.
The UA Meat Science Laboratory is a state of the art, USDA inspected facility with meat lockers and classrooms, which allows demonstrations of processing techniques for meat science and food safety programs.
Grey Farrell, Coordinating Extension Agent with Arizona Cooperative Extension stated that with the economic situation, many in the cattle industry are affected. "Our goal has always been to show our Diné ranchers and producers a realistic perspective on cattle industry in terms of beef quality and market conditions and consumer preference all for a successful cattle operation," he stated.
According to Farrell, in previous years this event has become very successful, and the quality of Navajo beef has improved and is now often classified among Arizona's best, according to analysis by the UA labs. Many Navajo producers now employ the latest in animal science research with techniques provided through the Navajo Nation and University Extension Services and "Rez to Rail," is only one educational component.
Learning about genetics, management practices and production with wise marketing decisions for a better beef product, has always been the overall goal of "Rez to Rail."
The "Rez to Rail" event is open to the public and transportation will be available for those who wish to attend. For more information, contact Grey Farrell at (928) 401-0925, Caroline Smith at (928) 871-6617 or Gerald Moore at (928) 871-7686.