Food & Drink
Grass-fed Beef and Bolsas From Rancho Ojo de Agua
Published: September 11, 2013
The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows product to be marketed as “grass-fed” when “grass and forage [are] the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning.” As an operation committed to providing natural, grass-fed meat, Canseco’s South Texas business faces one major and practically constant challenge: drought.
The leased pasture where Canseco and Seale keep their herd is designed for irrigation and lies within the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (referred to as BMA). Water for irrigation in this area has been totally restricted since August, 2012. “It’s cut off until we get some rain,” said BMA Business Manager Ed Berger. “It’s just a very severe drought. There’s no water to effectively allow irrigation.” As of September 3, Berger reported that 11,360 acre-feet of water remained in Medina Lake. “That’s about 4.5 percent full,” he said. “You can’t give something you don’t have.” Until rain replenishes Medina Lake, farmers and ranchers like Canseco will have to wait.
No water for irrigation means slower pasture regrowth, which forces Canseco to downstock, supplement animal diets with other grasses and carefully manage her pasture. “Instead of fretting over things where we have zero control, we improve those things over which we do have control,” Canseco said.
“By scaling back the number of animals produced and focusing on quality, we’ve learned things over the past few years that have allowed us to improve consistency.”