A Look into the Future of the Cattle Industry
SAN ANTONIO - No matter what segment of the beef business you’re involved in, there was a “take-away” message from the general session held today during the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Panel members representing the seedstock, cow-calf, feedlot, processing and retail sectors spoke to thousands of convention attendees and shared their views on what it will take to survive and succeed in the coming decade.
“We have many challenges facing us today,” said Dan Dierschke, vice chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board in his introductory remarks. “We know we have more regulations, changes in consumer demand and a multitude of hurdles confronting us. Today’s program was designed to give us insight as to how the leaders and innovators in every segment of the beef business are meeting those obstacles head-on.”
Tom Field, Ph.D. and executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) moderated a panel made up of the following speakers:
· Paul Bennett, Knoll Crest Farms, Red House, Virginia
· Homer Buell, Shovel Dot Ranch, Bassett, Neb.
· Dave DeLaney, King Ranch, Kingsville, Texas
· James Herring, Friona Industries, Amarillo, Texas
· Wesley Batista, JBS, Greeley, Colo.
· Molly McAdams, H-E-B, San Antonio, Texas
The panel represented every segment of the business ranging from seedstock, cow-calf, and feedlot to packer and retailer. While the pressures facing each segment are different, all of the panelists were in agreement in their opening remarks that while being in the cattle and beef business has its challenges, all are thankful for the opportunity to participate.
“Exciting, fun, captivating, interesting—those are the words that I think of when I think about our industry,” said Homer Buell, a cow-calf producer from Rose, Neb. “Ranching is a hard business to be in, but I believe we should focus on the positives and not the negatives.”
As part of the program, each speaker offered their thoughts on strategies that were critical to success in the beef industry. “Sometimes the messages we receive from activists or even from other segments of our industry can seem daunting,” said Dave Delaney, vice president and general manager of Livestock and Ranching Operations for the King Ranch. “And, while that is our circle of concern, we should be focused on our circle of influence and devote our energy to the things we can change.”
Other themes that punctuated the panelists’ comments were the need for beef industry participants to be innovative and to continually find new opportunities through education and networking. “My father once said that tradition is production agriculture’s greatest handicap,” said Paul Bennett a seedstock producer who with his family operates Knoll Crest Farms in Red House, Va.
“Beef demand and market access are critical factors to everyone’s success,” said Wesley Batista, president and CEO of beef processor JBS, based in Greeley, Colo. and with operations throughout the world. “We’re committed to working with all of you to improve these conditions.”
Molly McAdams, vice president of Own Brands for H-E-B a retail chain headquartered in San Antonio echoed those comments. “Collaboration has been the key to our business’s success. As an industry, we have to rally around the common enemy and that enemy is declining demand,” she said.
“Volatility has become the norm, and it’s important that we are predictive, rather than reactive,” said James Herring, CEO, Friona Industries. “We need to play good defense through risk management, no matter what phase of the industry you’re involved in.”
After brief presentations by each of the speakers, the program was opened up for a question and answer session among the approximately 2,000 convention attendees that took part in the morning session.
Steve Foglesong, a beef producer from central Illinois and president-elect of NCBA closed out this dynamic program with equally inspiring remarks that reminded everyone in attendance that while there are some potential roadblocks to the industry’s optimism, it is a battle that can be overcome if everyone remembers that they are in it together.