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Dave Barz: Building beef demand

Dave Barz, DVM

August has been great so far. The temperatures moderated for Dakotafest, the big storms missed us and we received some rain to keep everything going.

Lately the futures markets have been really erratic and it has impacted live cattle prices. The southwest part of the U.S. is extremely dry and many cattle are leaving that region. Hopefully these extra critters will be through the system soon and prices will stabilize.

As producers we may not be able to control the markets, but it is our duty as cattlemen to maintain and increase demand. We must promote our product as the world’s most trusted and preferred source of beef and beef products.

Cattle producers passed the mandatory beef checkoff of $1 per head about 20 years ago. At the time this seemed to be a fair price which would serve the industry for years to come. Since that time, beef prices have tripled and in some cases even quadrupled. The cost of advertising has also increased. It may be a good time to increase the checkoff due to inflation and the fewer numbers of cattle moving through trade channels. If we want to compete in the world market in the future, we need to build a cash supply that is up to global promotion.

Promote the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program in your state. This program was originally started to remove blemishes and trim from expensive cuts of beef to improve our image in the market place. Producers picked up on the program rapidly and problems decreased almost immediately. In South Dakota the program has been passed from organization to organization for management and over time it has lost steam. Most producers are implementing the simple BQA requirements, but the paper required for auditing by more sophisticated programs in effect today are causing many producers to lose interest in the BQA program. I would hope South Dakota could back up to the simple times of the program, allowing all producers to qualify.

Secondary qualifications for additional programs would require more specific records be kept. They could include:

• Age & Source: In addition to vaccination records, a calf book and calf identification would be required. This would allow these animals to be shipped to the Pacific Market.

• Non-Implant: These identified animals require feed records in addition to the age and source protocol. They have never been implanted or fed hormones or estrogen. They qualify for shipment to the European Union.

• Non-Antibiotic: These animals require all the previous requirements and specific feed records to ensure no banned substances are ever fed or injected. They would quality for “natural and non-antibiotic” niche markets worldwide.

We need to promote ourselves and our industry. The cattle business has a storied history of independence and wide open spaces. For me it calms me to ride pastures and watch pairs grazing. At events like Dakotafest we take calves for working demonstrations. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I see just leaning on the fence watching the calves on display. They must also feel a sense of calm when they are with them.

It should be easy to promote our wide open spaces and natural husbandry techniques to the consumer, especially if we couple these ideas with the BQA guidelines. This will enable producers to position the U.S. cowherd for additional growth and expansion while protecting and enhancing our freedom to operate.

It is everyone’s responsibility to improve domestic preference for beef while we capitalize on global demand for our product. Your personal dedication, the BQA and checkoff dollars can help make beef the meat product most demanded by consumers. Do your part to maintain our lifestyle while keeping everyone profitable.

August has been great so far. The temperatures moderated for Dakotafest, the big storms missed us and we received some rain to keep everything going.

Lately the futures markets have been really erratic and it has impacted live cattle prices. The southwest part of the U.S. is extremely dry and many cattle are leaving that region. Hopefully these extra critters will be through the system soon and prices will stabilize.

As producers we may not be able to control the markets, but it is our duty as cattlemen to maintain and increase demand. We must promote our product as the world’s most trusted and preferred source of beef and beef products.

Cattle producers passed the mandatory beef checkoff of $1 per head about 20 years ago. At the time this seemed to be a fair price which would serve the industry for years to come. Since that time, beef prices have tripled and in some cases even quadrupled. The cost of advertising has also increased. It may be a good time to increase the checkoff due to inflation and the fewer numbers of cattle moving through trade channels. If we want to compete in the world market in the future, we need to build a cash supply that is up to global promotion.

Promote the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program in your state. This program was originally started to remove blemishes and trim from expensive cuts of beef to improve our image in the market place. Producers picked up on the program rapidly and problems decreased almost immediately. In South Dakota the program has been passed from organization to organization for management and over time it has lost steam. Most producers are implementing the simple BQA requirements, but the paper required for auditing by more sophisticated programs in effect today are causing many producers to lose interest in the BQA program. I would hope South Dakota could back up to the simple times of the program, allowing all producers to qualify.

Secondary qualifications for additional programs would require more specific records be kept. They could include:

• Age & Source: In addition to vaccination records, a calf book and calf identification would be required. This would allow these animals to be shipped to the Pacific Market.

• Non-Implant: These identified animals require feed records in addition to the age and source protocol. They have never been implanted or fed hormones or estrogen. They qualify for shipment to the European Union.

• Non-Antibiotic: These animals require all the previous requirements and specific feed records to ensure no banned substances are ever fed or injected. They would quality for “natural and non-antibiotic” niche markets worldwide.

We need to promote ourselves and our industry. The cattle business has a storied history of independence and wide open spaces. For me it calms me to ride pastures and watch pairs grazing. At events like Dakotafest we take calves for working demonstrations. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I see just leaning on the fence watching the calves on display. They must also feel a sense of calm when they are with them.

It should be easy to promote our wide open spaces and natural husbandry techniques to the consumer, especially if we couple these ideas with the BQA guidelines. This will enable producers to position the U.S. cowherd for additional growth and expansion while protecting and enhancing our freedom to operate.

It is everyone’s responsibility to improve domestic preference for beef while we capitalize on global demand for our product. Your personal dedication, the BQA and checkoff dollars can help make beef the meat product most demanded by consumers. Do your part to maintain our lifestyle while keeping everyone profitable.




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