The Cowboy Innovator Fueling America's Beef Industry
The American Cowboy. They are the original innovators and entrepreneurs whose legacy tells the story of resilience, ingenuity, and passion that fueled a growing country with beef. They weathered economic fluctuations, harsh weather conditions, and the occasional cattle rustler, crafted their own tools, from lassos to fences to rope, turning everyday objects into instruments of the trade—all to fulfill their role in feeding a nation. Their inventiveness, tenacity, and courage made them masters—and stewards—of the land who nurtured the American cattle industry, ensuring its productivity for generations to come. Ranchers are at once the guardians of tradition and the engine of innovation that continues to drive America forward.
Among these passionate figures stands Emmet Storer, a fifth-generation Nebraska rancher, and the founder and CEO of Platform Cattle, a distributor of innovation for the cattle industry. He’s a pioneer of sustainable beef production and a passionate advocate for bridging the gap between consumers and individual ranchers. “An old cowboy once told me that the most expensive words in the industry are ‘That’s the way Daddy did it,’” Emmet recalls. As he helps to usher the country’s ranching community into a new era, his story is a testament to the legacy of the American cowboy, and their enduring heritage of innovation, entrepreneurship, and unwavering commitment to deliver the highest-quality beef to kitchen tables across the nation for generations to come.
Emmet's Family Legacy: From Frontier Haystacks to Sprawling Herds
Emmet’s roots as a cowboy and an entrepreneur in the cattle industry reach back generations. His great-great-grandfather, Dan, arrived in the U.S. from Ireland at just 14 years old and settled in Nebraska, where he worked for a local rancher, saving every penny he could. Over time, he managed to purchase a few heads of cattle and a piece of land from the rancher, enduring the harsh conditions of the frontier, all in pursuit of a better life for his family. His indomitable spirit marked the inception of a family legacy that lives on today.
Emmet paints a vivid picture of his grandfather’s determination. "For five years, as he was building it, he didn’t have a house, he lived in haystacks, and several times the haystacks burned down, and he'd have to dig and hollow out another one,” he explains. “He was in the middle of nowhere, near Coyote Bowl, just working relentlessly to earn a dime more than someone else, to gain an advantage and build more for his family. Five generations later, I'm still here, and we still have the ranch that he started."
The Rise of a New Entrepreneur & an Innovator for the Modern Age
Emmet's journey as a rancher and entrepreneur began as a youth. His parents gave him and his siblings a few cattle from the family's herd, depositing the money received from selling at auction into their savings account. In seventh grade, Emmet’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for cattle was clear when he used some of the money that he’d saved to buy 10 more cows. And so it was that a young rancher was born—with business savvy and forethought defied his years. He grew the herd to 50 heads, and used the income to pay for his college education, graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a major in agricultural economics, a minor in agricultural entrepreneurship, and an emphasis on meat science. He established Signature Cattle LLC for his growing herd of cattle—and founded Platform Cattle determined to help his fellow ranchers thrive.
Platform Cattle: A Distributor of Innovation Built By a Cattleman For Cattlemen
Based in North Platte, Nebraska, Emmet founded Platform Cattle in 2020 with a clear vision: to be a distributor of innovation for the cattle industry, taking practices and innovations used around the world and create products usable for the U.S. cattle industry—the biggest powerhouse of cattle and agriculture in the world. “Our mission is to build a brand that recognizes the lifestyle learned, the struggles earned, and the innovation created,” Emmet shares.
Like the cowboys before him, Emmet has wasted no time in the area of innovation. One of his most significant contributions to the industry is the creation of the Sustainable Beef Production Standard Program. This initiative embodies his unwavering commitment to sustainable practices and ensuring that the ranching industry is both environmentally responsible and profitable. The program sets rigorous standards for sustainable beef production, safeguarding the future of the industry, the land, and the generations that will come after.
As Emmet continues to eye new innovations, he’s equally focused on creating a stronger bond between beef consumers and individual, smaller ranchers, to revive the close connection that they once had. “As the world has gotten bigger, this connection has, sadly, gotten lost along the way. Consumers want to know where their beef comes from, the people behind it, and we want them to know who we are and our stories,” Emmet says.
While Emmet’s horse, Gator, is grazing, we had the pleasure to meet with him to hear what it means to be a “cowboy,” and learn more about Platform Cattle, the challenges of American ranchers, and how he’s delivering innovation to ensure American cowboys thrive in the modern cattle industry. And he shared some surprising facts that you might not know!
A Conversation with Emmet Storer: The American Cowboy Behind Platform Cattle
What inspired you to start Platform Cattle and what makes it so unique?
Simply put, I knew my heart was drawn to the cattle industry and the people it brings together. Platform Cattle represents the innovation it’s going to take to cultivate the values that cattle provide on our plate, in our pastures, and for our culture. Cattle means more than just a commodity, to all of us that grew up in it, we learn a lifestyle only generations can teach and a passion that can only be inherited. That’s why Platform Cattle dedicates time to building a brand that stands for more, because that’s what this industry was built on.
What are the greatest challenges facing American ranchers today?
A relationship with consumers. There are numerous challenges in the industry, some come and go throughout the years. However, to re-establish a transparent relationship between those who raise the beef and those who buy the beef would diminish several of the other underlying challenges. For the generations of ranchers before us, there was always a connection between the consumer and the producer on some level. But now, that’s getting smaller and smaller, and harder to find. We take great pride in being able to provide high-quality beef to the tables of families across America, and, as ranchers and producers, we want them to know who we are and our story.
Sustainability is another key challenge. Sustainable for the environment, sustainable for your operation, and sustainable for the population. We’re producing more pounds of beef per head of cattle than we ever have before yet there are actually less cattle in the U.S. than there were 30 years ago. As ranchers, we need to continue to make our operations more efficient.
How are you using innovation to help drive the cattle industry forward, and create value for ranchers across America?
We’re connecting demands with solutions that are effectively sustainable for both the consumer and our producers. The Sustainable Beef Production Standard is what I created to help do just that.
Tell us a bit more about the Sustainable Beef Standard Program and how it could be a gamechanger for American ranchers and consumers alike.
The Sustainable Beef Standard Program was created to ensure beef consumers with the direct reduction of cattle’s carbon footprint. Consumers and producers both can also be assured that our standard is economically sustainable for producers to use in their operation. The goal of Sustainable Beef Production Standard is to provide sustainable beef to consumers in a way that is sustainable for producers to provide, and is helping to protect the environment as well.
Emmet, can you share a few things about ranchers that the public might not know?
A ranch receives most all of its revenue once or twice a year, that is when we sell our calves. The only exceptions are if we are forced to sell additional cattle such as unproductive bulls and cows. Our profit margins are actually fairly low, and they’ve been declining for about the last decade. Another thing people might not realize is that most of us run ranches that have been in our families for generations, and like our parents and grandparents—and those before—we’re constantly innovating to overcome new challenges. We take great pride in the beef we produce for people. The same meat that they’re enjoying in their homes in restaurants we’re serving to our own families!
Nebraska Beef is fast becoming all the rage among consumers and restaurants, known for its quality, tenderness, and extraordinary taste. What makes it so popular?
Nebraska, particularly, can produce a quality product because our ecosystem provides the highest quality of natural resources that are ideal for cattle production. This, with the combination of people committed to the husbandry of their own land and cattle, makes a beef product that is second to none.
You’re also on a bigger mission to bring consumers and ranchers together as a community supporting each other. Why is this important to you—and consumers?
From a business perspective, as the producer, it’s essential to connect with the final consumer for feedback on our product to help us evaluate their demands and find ways to improve our product. I believe it is also essential for the consumer to know more about what they are consuming. By bringing ranchers and consumers closer together, I am hopeful this would build trust and revive the relationships that consumers and ranchers once had with each other.
What does it mean to be a “cowboy,” Emmet?
To define a “cowboy,” is to define a culture. Meaning that you really don’t know the right words to describe it; but when you’re around it, you know it. At our best we’re fearless, passionate, eager to show strength, and yet quick to care for others. At our worst we’re closed off, working hard by ourselves, and tend to be viewed as a “wild card” to those around us.
Founder & CEO — Platform Cattle
Facebook: Emmet Storer