by Steven E Smith
Backed by rich history that is combined with an excitement about the future, Eastern NY breeder herds coupled with support from the New York Angus Association to host the National Angus Conference and Tour. The three-day event served as an outstanding educational and networking opportunity for members in attendance. Conference speakers articulated current positions on the specific topics of breed genomics and Angus marketing and on wider range topics such as agricultural advocacy to inspiring leadership.
As primary sponsor of the event, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC took the opportunity to partner with the American Angus Association to sponsor speakers, bus breeders to some of the most prominent breeder herds and work with other vendors to offer a trade show for demonstrations of products and services available to the Angus community.
Conference attendees received an update on the latest genomic findings and technologies. As has been the case with all segments of animal agriculture using genetic information, previously undetected conditions such as simple recessives are being identified. The discussion indicated that a recent finding specific to Angus cattle known as Developmental Duplication has been made known. As a simple recessive, DD only causes a loss of the resulting pregnancy from certain matings. Archives samples coupled with current sampling will provide the Angus Association, Angus Genetics Inc. and Angus breeders with the necessary information to avoid making those matings that would only ultimately result in an early embryonic death.
As Chief Executive Office of the American Angus Association, Bryce Schumann shared updates and presented challenges to the membership. As the largest beef breed, registering nearly 300,000 animals to more than 25,000 members in the U.S., Canada and several other countries; Schumann indicated that the breed is well positioned to continue to be the leader in the beef community. With one of the largest bovine databases consisting of more than 20 million records already compiled, breeders can access Angus Association resources such as Maternal Plus to make significant progress in their own herds. On behalf of the American Angus Association and its Board of Directors, Schumann ensured the members in attendance that the Association is advancing their long range plan and are using the resources within the breed association’s foundation and other entities to identify areas for advancement in science research as well as furthering market access for Angus genetics.
Certified Angus Beef brand
David O’Diam, Assistant Director of Business Development at Certified Angus Beef, LLC gave the breeders in the audience a detailed depiction of the activities of CAB. Certified Angus Beef brand which started in 1978 has been an important project that members of the breed association has been a part of. “This continues to be a period of growth for CAB as we set monthly marketing goals even earlier in the year when seasonality and the Easter holiday effects generally reduce demand for beef. While the entire market for beef has registered noticeable reductions in retail and food service demand for beef, Certified Angus Beef brand has charted increase in retail, food service markets as well as in the international export sectors. CAB is Angus beef at its best and we are making it our business to reach these new marketing opportunities.”
Kip Palmer of Palmer Foods in Rochester, NY, served as speaker at the conference. Palmer explained to the audience how important it is to his business to be a licensed CAB marketer. Palmer believes in the brand, uses the marketing resources and CAB representatives to identify feature opportunities. By capturing purchasing advantages from CAB, Palmer indicated his companies are able to better market this superior product at great prices brings them customers and drives repeat business. “The customers are satisfied and I believe in the brand so much we make sure the emblem is a part of the signage on all of our trailers.”
“The record year for marketing of Certified Angus Beef brand was last year with more than 810 million pounds sold. And just last month, we set the single month record for CAB marketing at 76 million pounds. We have a bright future ahead of us for Angus cattle,” according to Phil Trowbridge American Angus President.
Speakers through the conference and tour kept identifying greater market opportunities both in overall consumer growth as well as meet specific demands of the consumer base. O’Diam and others made mention of the “Localtarian” whose food purchasing philosophy is centered on the concept of buying local and knowing where your food comes from. Farms on the tour as well as direct marketers commented on the importance of linking the consumer to their operations. But the same time, the entire beef industry faces hurdles to growth and profitability. During the tour portion, president Trowbridge made mention of the improvements in feed efficiency that he has noticed during his career. “When at one time, cattle feeders had to take about seven pounds of feed to yield a pound of beef, the industry is now measuring about four and a half pounds of feed.”
But beef producers will face challenges to efficiencies and profitability brought on by social as well as market pressures. For example, a recent announcement by Tyson Foods that they would no longer purchase any animals fed Zilmax. Zilmax, a proven safe feed additive to stimulate more muscling and less fat deposition in beef cattle was originally created to aid humans with asthma symptoms before being approved for use in beef cattle. While the bulk up performance of cattle fed Zilmax during the final weeks of feeding presents no residues to the beef produced, Tyson corporately indicated that the animal’s locomotion and standing activities are altered and while it does not directly point to Zilmax as the cause, it was going to stop buying any animals fed Zilmax anyway. The resulting media perspective to the consumer is that the prices of steaks and other beef products will go up while bringing producer management practices into question.
Breed association activities such as the National Angus Conference and Tour provide a great opportunity to learn more about the breed through the speaker presentation, at on farm tours and by networking with other breeder who attend. In upcoming issues, additional perspectives on leadership, marketing and other topics will be shared.
by Steven E Smith