Ore. sustainable beef co-op loses members

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- The Country Natural Beef cooperative says it's having trouble filling orders because high prices are luring some producers back to traditional sales outlets.

The cooperative, which began in Eastern Oregon, hopes consumers will pay a premium for meat raised under guidelines for sustainability. But the high price of beef generally has cut into that advantage.

Co-op officials tell the Capital Press (http://bit.ly/pwuyBB ) it has 75 full members and 15 prospective members. At one time the co-op had more than 100 members.

The cooperative says it has been able to buy cattle that meet its specifications so it can supply retailers -- but that's costly.

Adding to costs, say co-op leaders, are added requirements from some retail buyers for new third-party certifications of animal care practices and sustainable production.

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Information from: Capital Press, http://www.capitalpress.com/