Tag Archives: 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show

Beyond the Pasture Gate

by Lance Zimmerman

One of the great things about the NCBA Young Producers’ Council is how it brings together full-time and part-time cattle producers as well as people involved just beyond the pasture gate.

Regardless of the day-to-day tasks that might consume YPC members, the common goal to work on policy issues, member recruitment, personal development and networking creates focus for the organization.

The leadership committee has a variety of activities planned for 2012 that will provide purpose and direction for the group, and I want to encourage everyone to look for ways to get involved.

I talked with a cattleman from Nebraska before the Annual Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Nashville, and he shared a concern that I feel is worth mentioning on the YPC blog. His passion for young producers was immediately evident.

He spoke to me about the opportunity for our generation to get involved in NCBA, network with older producers and become engaged in policy discussions. Then, the conversation turned to one of caution. As an established producer, he recognized the family and financial burden it takes to leave an operation for a few days to become engaged in an organization like NCBA.

Airline travel, hotel reservations and convention registrations certainly present a financial burden to many young producers trying to establish their own operations. On top of that, many producers in their 20s and 30s are the only source of labor for their operations. They often have to leave those operations in the hands of extended family and friends.

These are challenges of involvement for any producer, but the producer mentioned the stakes are often raised for young producers that have young families depending on them.

I bring all this front and center because I truly believe the YPC can find answers for these challenges.

First, the YPC provides opportunities that might not require a large travel commitment. The mentor program that was unveiled during the Nashville meetings is a perfect start. You be paired with a mentor in your state who is willing to be a sounding board as you look for guidance and advice.

Also, membership education and recruitment is an opportunity that exists on nearly a daily basis, and policy and beef quality assurance issues are something that producers can champion regardless of timing and location.

Those elements of YPC and NCBA involvement definitely help people stay engaged, but I also think it is important for us to address the challenges of involvement at the national level. The cost to travel to national-level meetings is significant, and YPC took steps toward addressing this in 2011 with its convention registration scholarships.

The council wants to build on this in 2012. I believe there are ways YPC can help members overcome these trials, but we need members to be involved in the discussions. Keep watching your e-mail to get involved in the upcoming YPC task forces. Details will likely also be shared through the YPC blog and facebook page as we get more information.

Healthy discussion regarding these challenges will help the YPC work toward reasonable solutions to encourage involvement at summer meetings in Denver and the 2013 annual meeting in Tampa.


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NCBA Young Producers Council Elects New Leadership

Front Row: Ben Neale, Travis Hoffman, Ansen Pond, Jaclyn Wilson-Demel, Jen Livsey; Back row: Faustine Curry, Evan Tate, Rae Marie Gordon, J.W. Wood, Philip Weltmer

NASHVILLE, TENN. (Feb. 3, 2012) – More than 70 young cattlemen and women from across the nation gathered yesterday to take part in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Young Producers’ Council (YPC) business meeting.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important our industry’s young people are to the future of this organization,” said Bill Donald, outgoing president of NCBA, during comments he made to YPC members. “When I look out at this room, I see the future of our industry.”

A packed meeting agenda included nominating and approving the 2012 YPC executive committee and board of directors. In addition to serving on the board, members will also represent YPC on various NCBA policy committees.

Lance Zimmerman, of Castle Rock, Colo., was elected as chairman. J.W. Wood of Pa’auilo, Hawaii, was elected as vice chair and Travis Hoffman of Fort Collins, Colo., was elected as the council’s secretary. Individuals elected to the YPC board and the NCBA policy committees where they will represent YPC include:

  • Faustine Curry, Texas – Agricultural Policy
  • RaeMarie Gordon, Colo. – Cattle Health and Well Being
  • Sarah Baker, Idaho – Federal Lands
  • Ansen Pond, Texas – Live Cattle Marketing
  • Jen Livsey, Texas – Membership
  • Evan Tate, Ky. – Property Rights and Environmental Management
  • Phillip Weltmer, Kan. – Tax and Credit
  • Jaclyn Wilson-Demel, Neb. – Resolutions

Outgoing chair Ben Neale of McMinnville, Tenn., will serve on the board in an advisory capacity.

In addition to conducting its annual business meeting, YPC members conducted a strategy session with Matt Buyers, vice president of operations and human resources for Five Rivers Feeding.

This year’s meeting was sponsored by Dupont. YPC was established during the 2008 Cattle Industry Summer Conference and was initiated to help NCBA members ages 18 to 35 develop their leadership skills and become more involved in NCBA policy development. The group also helps provide networking opportunities, continuing education and professional development activities.

Membership in the council is free to current NCBA members. For more information, become a fan of YPC on Facebook or


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Cattlemen’s College: 300 Days of Grazing

By Jesse Bussard

Year-round grazing is a concept that many around the country only dream of.  Yet, researchers Tom Troxel PhD, John Jennings PhD, and Shane Gadberry PhD from the University of Arkansas have proven that when implemented with the proper forage and cattle management strategies, a nearly year-round grazing program is possible in some parts of the US.  They elaborated on this impressive system during one of the Grazing and Forage Management Sessions during this morning’s Cattlemen’s College event at the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention.

The concept of the 300 Days of Grazing System developed out of a need to eliminate rising input costs for livestock producers.  Never in the history of our industry have the costs of inputs such as feed, fuel, and fertilizer increased by such a dramatic amount in such a short period of time.  By implementing more efficient pasture, hay, and feeding management producers involved in the program were able to greatly increase savings and decreased harvested forage needs in the herds.

Jennings asked the question “Do you plan and manage for a hay crop?”  He stated that if producers can do this they just as easily plan and manage for a pasture crop.  The basic steps behind the 300 Days of Grazing System include the following:

  • Start with an inventory of your forage base
  • What management practices can you add to increase seasonal grazing
  • Add complimentary forages to fill in seasonal gaps
  • Plan forage/grazing practices ahead for the year.
  • Monitor and adjust the forage and livestock over time as conditions change

The research for this grazing system was conducted in 110 demonstrations in 48 counties across the state of Arkansas.  These consisted of hay management demos looking at trying to reduce storage and feeding losses, stockpiling both warm and cool season forages, implementing rotational grazing systems, using complementary forages like winter and summer annuals, incorporating legumes, and also whole farm demonstrations.  Whole farm demos included both studies conducted on-farm and at University of Arkansas research farms.

With a simple forage management practice of stockpiling forages showed to be a very cost-effective practice.  Average savings for stockpiling Bermudagrass compared to feeding hay averaged $12, $42 and $52 per animal unit (AU; AU = 1000 lb cow) in 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively.  An average savings for stockpiled fescue compared to feeding hay average $42, $54, and $48 per AU in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  The greatest savings was seen on a farm that strip-grazed stockpiled fescue/white clover and did not need to apply fertilizer with a savings of $83.50/AU

Overall producers that participated in the program were able to graze anywhere from 275-335 days throughout the year.  All of this was accomplished by implementing practical forage management tactics such as overseeding legumes, stockpiling forages, and implementing rotational and strip grazing systems.  Total direct reported savings to producers throughout this three year study totaled $191,727.  Benefits in increased cow efficiency and a decrease in direct expenses have proven that utilizing more practical, applied forage management concepts allow cattlemen to minimize inputs leading to an optimization of cattle performance and added profits.


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Cattlemen’s College: Finding Profitability in a Volatile Market

By Jesse Bussard

There’s no question that unprecedented volatility in commodity markets and the increasing influence of external factors, both domestic and abroad, are changing how we do business in the cattle market.  Nevil Speer, PhD, Western Kentucky University, elaborated on this topic during the first session of the Profit Pathways speaker series during Cattlemen’s College at the 2012 Cattle Industry Conference.

Between 1980-1998, Speer noted that pork and poultry expenditures increased by over $112.43 per capita, while beef expenditures increased only $6.07 per capita.  This along with the relatively flat, slow-to-increase annual average cattle price through the 80s and 90s made for slow growth for the cattle industry during that time.

Since January of 2010 the cattle business has experienced both extreme growth and volatility.  This can be seen in the increase of aggregate  feedyard revenue ($ bil) from nearly $17 billion in 1998 to over $30 million in 2011.  In December of 2009 fed markets were at a near term low.  Fast forward two years later and fed cattle are currently being traded at $125, which is nearly a 55% increase.  The fed markets are currently out competing the S&P 500 stock index which only increases around 40+% over that same two year period.

As Speer put it, “We are in a dark wood and the way is not straight.”  The road ahead for the cattle business is an uncertain one, but also a very promising one if producers are willing to listen to market signals and become more disciplined, objective, and innovative business strategists.  Producers can view the current environment as one of danger or one of opportunity.  What they decide could likely affect the future of their business.

In the domestic beef market, Speer sees value continuing to dominate consumer concerns.  However, where Speer sees  the real growth for the US cattle industry is in the export market.  From 2009 to 2010, beef export values have increased in value by over $40/head.  Beef exports have also added an additional $15-20/cwt to the fed market.  Export values for 2011 are on track to surpass 2010 annual export value by 30+%.

Though it is uncertain when the ongoing liquidation of the cowherd will end, Speer sees a trend for cattle operations to get bigger.  Currently about 4% of the cattle operations in the US run 200+ cows, yet they control over 37% of the cow inventory.  Speer noted that the overall decline in cattle operations since 1992 was about 160,000, with the majority (92%) of these operations running 50 or less head of cattle.  One point to note is, though our cow inventory may be smaller compared to over 15 years ago, when the cow inventory is adjusted for the increase in steer carcass weights, we are nearly equal in cow numbers (1995 – 35.19 mil head, 2011 – 34.897 mil head).

So what’s the bottom line here?  Higher commodity prices have impacted the cattle industry in a number of ways.  For many cattle producers, this means an alteration in the capital requirements to maintain a business.  Overall, the cattle industry is an optimistic group and will do their best to strive ahead in these new market challenges.  In the future Speer foresees commercial producers getting bigger to adjust to the larger economies of scale and also payer closer attention to market signals.  He believes this will also shift a greater focus to technology, value, and contracts.  Into the future, cattlemen will become more business oriented, spending more time on purchasing vs. marketing decisions.


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Nashville, Tenn. (Feb. 1, 2012) – Young cattle producers from across the country will be convening in Nashville, Tenn. for the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show this week to participate in activities focused on the newest generation of beef industry participants.

The Young Producers Council, which includes NCBA members ages 18 to 35, will be having its business meeting on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 2, 2012.  During the business meeting, the group will elect its 2012 executive committee and board of directors, who will also represent the council on various NCBA policy committees. The meeting is sponsored by DuPont.

In addition to reviewing NCBA policy resolutions and the past year’s efforts, YPC members will also be participating in a strategic planning session coordinated by Matt Buyers, Vice President of Operations and Human Resources for Five Rivers Feeding.

“We’ve been able to accomplish a lot through the creation of several new programs to get younger NCBA members more involved in the grassroots efforts of the organization,” said Ben Neale, of McMinnville, Tenn. who has served as chairman of YPC for the past year. “YPC is a relatively new component of NCBA, so there is still a need to strategically plan for the future to ensure that the organization meets the needs of its members. We’re hopeful that the session with Matt Buyers will help develop a successful future for YPC that incorporates the full input of the membership.”

While there is still a lot that the YPC leadership wants to accomplish, 2011 was a year of several “firsts.” The YPC leadership and board members worked collaboratively with NCBA staff to develop a new travel scholarship program for this year’s Cattle Industry Convention. Nine $250 travel fellowships were awarded to help defray costs for meeting attendees.

A new mentor program is also being kicked off during this year’s convention that will match a young NCBA member with individuals who have been involved in both NCBA and the beef industry for several years, and who are willing to share insights with the next generation of producers and industry professionals.

YPC members who registered for Cattlemen’s College will also have an exclusive opportunity to meet with Dr. Bob Milligan who is Senior Consultant with Dairy Strategies, LLC and a professor emeritus with Cornell University. The session, “Life is about Relationships – A Communications Toolbox,” will enhance attendees’ ability to work with and lead people.

“We are really pleased with the addition of an exclusive session during Cattlemen’s College focused on our members,” said Holly Foster, a cattle producer from Oroville, Calif. and the current vice chair of YPC. “The issues we face are different than those of the previous generation or producers that are more established in their operations, so it’s important to provide educational resources that help our age group meet the challenges of being in the beef industry head-on.”

During the past year, YPC board members have met monthly via conference call and have had an opportunity to represent NCBA at several meetings and functions, both nationally and internationally.

These efforts have paid off. The Young Producers Council has helped grow NCBA memberships in its age demographic by almost 13 percent in the past year.

Other individuals volunteering their time with the YPC leadership board include Cari Rincker, of New York City, N.Y. who served as the council’s secretary/treasurer. Immediate past YPC chair Ben Spitzer, of Boerne, Texas served on the board in an advisory capacity.

Board members whose terms will end during Convention and their respective NCBA policy committee appointments are:

  • Evan Tate, Ky. – Ag Policy
  • J.W. Wood, Hawaii. – Cattle Health and Well Being
  • Sarah Baker, Idaho – Federal Lands
  • Travis Hoffman, Colo. – Live Cattle Marketing
  • RaeMarie Gordon, Colo. – Membership
  • Lance Zimmerman, Colo. – Property Rights and Environmental Management
  • Phillip Weltmer, Kan. – Tax and Credit
  • Tonya Amen, Ga. – Resolutions

YPC members Jesse Bussard, Lexington, Ken. and Lauren Chase, Helena, Mont. served as public relations committee co-chairs and oversaw the Cattle Call Blog and YPC’s other social media outlets, including outreach via Facebook and Twitter throughout the past year.

The Young Producers’ Council was established during the 2008 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver and was initiated to help NCBA members ages 18 to 35 develop their leadership skills and become more involved in NCBA policy development. The group also helps provide networking opportunities, continuing education and professional development activities to its members. YPC members elected their first slate of officers at the 2009 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Ariz.

Membership in the council is free to current NCBA members. For more information, become a fan of the Young Producers’ Council on Facebook or visit


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Transition & Opportunity for Young Producers

by Lance Zimmerman

One of the few sure bets in life is change, and it was staring me in the face most of this week. It provided some perspective that I thought was worth to the Young Producers’ Council.

The New Year always presents a great time to reflect on the evolution of the past year and anticipate the future.

January 15th marked my one-year anniversary as an analyst at CattleFax. It was exciting to think about the transition that flew by during the course of a year. I completed graduate school, moved to a new area, adapted to a different workplace, developed new friendships and continued to grow with the demands placed on me.

At the same time, I only have to look ahead to February to see more change on the horizon. Next month, my wife and I will welcome our first baby boy into the world.

In less than two weeks, hundreds of cattle producers will descend on Nashville to take part in the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. The week will be filled with discussion focused on the triumphs and challenges of 2011 and the opportunities and trials that face the beef industry in 2012.

The beef industry is always in transition, and that is a good thing. It helps us grow stronger and better serve beef consumers.

Whether you own a ranch or simply work in a field that makes sure those ranches improve, you have a stake in that transition. There will be countless opportunities in Nashville to be engaged in the discussion.

The education events start on Wednesday with the Cattlemen’s College. You can find a wide variety of sessions on topics ranging from herd management to consumer trends to communication skills.

The learning experiences will continue throughout the week during general sessions and the NCBA trade show.

The week also appeals to members who want to serve. When it comes to the YPC, that starts with the council’s business and planning meeting from 2 to 5 p.m., Thursday, at Governor’s Ballroom A.

I believe the next year will be critical in determining if the YPC is a long-term success, and council leadership developed an agenda to make this meeting productive. In addition to elections and policy discussions, there will be an interactive planning session and 2012 volunteer opportunities.

Change and transition go hand-in-hand. There will be countless opportunities in Nashville for NCBA members to look to the future. Attend the upcoming YPC meeting, hear about the plans for 2012 and contribute to the future vision of the council.


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Cattle Industry Convention Hashtag Controversy

via AgWired Press Release

Who would have thought that we’d have a “controversy” over the Twitter hashtag for the Cattle Industry Convention? Really? Well, it might not be a full blown controversy but it’s at least interesting. The official hashtag is #CIC12. Makes sense. The CIC is not just one organization. You’ve got the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the American National CattleWomen (ANCW) and Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). To create a hashtag that only highlights one of them doesn’t seem fair and isn’t really descriptive of the event itself. I’m hoping it’s not being done to irritate or exclude the other organizations that participate in this industry event.

But apparently a number of folks are using #NCBA12 and have been questioning the decision to have the official hashtag be #CIC12. If I remember correctly, the NCBA letters may have been used in a previous convention. But that was then. We’re talking about now. A time when we’re seeing much needed unity within the industry and these organizations. So let’s use #CIC12. Okay.

The beauty and sometimes frustration of the web is that we’re all free to do what we want though. So you can use whatever hashtag you want. I’ll be following #CIC12 though and would recommend you do too.

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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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