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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
The thinker

Thoughts and Ponderings

Posted by Travis Meteer -

I was able to attend the Midwest section of ASAS animal science meetings in Des Moines, IA earlier this month. I had the opportunity to view numerous research projects presented and a vast amount of good science being applied to the beef industry. It is always a thought provoking event, but this year I left the meeting with some big questions.

The biggest question I feel is "Are beef producers ready to take on the challenges we are about to face?" As I reflect on the majority of our local, state, and regional meetings... I realize that we have been focusing largely on just making it. Just making it to spring of 2013 and out of a drought.

The drought threw a curve ball to producers this past year. Illinois cattlemen had to focus on where to get feed and water... two things we take for granted. At this juncture, I took to answering drought related questions seemingly full time and still am answering them yet this month. It's important to realize much of the plains are still experiencing a drought and if the drought extends we could be right back in the hole. I am not expecting to see a huge decline in drought related questions.

So, I ask myself "Are beef producers ready to take on the challenges we are about to face?" With the focus still on drought in much of the US and many producers stretching feeds right now... I would say the focus is not as much on the future, but maintaining the present. This is not bad. It should be priority to stay in the business. However, I would encourage producers and decision makers to take a bit of time to look down the road.

Feeding an exponentially growing population is going to be a challenge. I believe we can overcome this challenge with sound science and good management. However, we as producers need to be aware of these technologies and maximize their contribution.

We also must realize we are going to battle policy and law written and voted on by the wealthy. Can the wealthy impose their preference of food and food production on the poor? We have to justify our production practices already. What happens if we can improve cattle with genetic technology to get sick less, produce more nutritious meat, eat less while producing the same, etc.? Can this technology even be used or will it be deemed unacceptable by society? I think these are questions that are without answer in my head... I have my opinion, but certainly not the answer.

I am excited as to the future of beef production. I feel like we have the opportunity as cattlemen to produce a product that helps feed the world. I think we have the opportunity to improve genetic selection, improve forages for feed, improve management and handling of cattle, improve reproductive efficiency, and subsequently improve the way of life for those to follow. Are you ready to face these challenges and move the production of food animals forward?



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