Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Patrick Robinette, with Harris-Robinette Beef, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Agriculture is almost like a spiritual awakening for some people in the sense that when it calls you simply must answer. At least that was the case for Patrick Robinette, owner and operator of Harris-Robinette Beef in Pinetops. Although Patrick was not raised in a farming family, he worked on many of his friends farms growing up and developed a passion for agriculture that led him to pursue a related degree in college. “The funny thing is that I actually started with my major in forestry,” Patrick said, “but one day I came to realize that my previous experience in and passion for cattle farming would take me further than anything else, so I immediately switched my major to Beef Cattle Management with minors in Nutrition and Genetics.”
Upon graduation, Patrick took over his father-in-law’s row crop farm that has been in the family for over 100 years and transitioned it to a beef cattle operation in 2000, establishing Harris-Robinette Beef. “The inspiration not only came from my own passion for cattle farming, but also from a mentor of mine who pushed me to look further into grass-fed beef,” he said, “but we needed to improve the system. The way we did things 30 or 40 years ago doesn’t work on the farm anymore, which is why we focus so strongly on innovation and reimagined ways of being successful in this business.”
According to Patrick, a typical day on the farm is chaos but in a good way. “I never repeat the same action on the same day, which is one of the reasons why I love what I do,” he said, “it’s something different every day and certainly never gets boring.” For many years at the start of Harris-Robinette Beef, Patrick could be found tending to cattle, repairing fences and preparing products for customers, but as the farm has grown, so has Patrick’s role as owner and operator. Today, Patrick can be found handling most of the farm politics, marketing and overall management.
Harris-Robinette Beef operates on a pasture-to-plate system where they control every aspect of the process until the beef hits your plate. “We’ve vertically integrated our entire operation, meaning we start with the breeding process of the calves and control every aspect until the beef is on your plate,” Patrick said. In 2012, the Robinette family established their own USDA processing facility, Micro Summit Processors, to help drive sustainability all the way from harvest to purchase and avoid using outside processors. “Now that we have our own processing facility, not only do I have more control over the product, but I can distribute it anywhere in the world in 48 hours from harvest,” he said, “so when my beef gets to you, it’s the absolute freshest product that it can be.” Patrick and his team have also started working on carbon offset on the farm to drive innovation.
Products from Harris-Robinette Beef can be found online at their website, Amazon and Food Lion as well as a variety of restaurants across the state, including Mulino’s Italian Kitchen and Bar in Raleigh. “We are the ingredient for an experience,” Patrick said, “ultimately that is what this business is all about. As people, we center our lives around food and as farmers we create the ingredients that then generate an experience for consumers.” Products from the farm include all cuts of raw beef, Artisan hot dogs, chopped beef BBQ, roast beef, BBQ ribs, pastrami, corn beef, brisket and many flavors of their popular beef jerky, Kiss My Grass. Fun fact, the honey barbecue beef jerky actually utilizes local honey and is one of Patrick’s favorites due to its sweet but tangy flavor!
Although fighting the stigma surrounding beef farmers and dealing with regulations can be challenging, Patrick wouldn’t trade anything for the joy he feels in taking an ingredient and telling a story by giving people a unique experience with his product. “It’s all about creating that central life experience for people,” he said, “seeing the joy on their faces and hearing how much they enjoy our product makes the difficult tasks worthwhile.”
In the future, Patrick will continue to innovate and evolve the farm through developing of new innovative market streams, improving quality yields, expanding product offerings and platforms and eventually utilizing drone technology to deliver to customers. Be sure to follow Harris-Robinette Beef on their social media accounts to stay up to date with their latest events, offerings and news!