I spoke at a local cattlemen’s meeting last weekend, and of the 175+ people in attendance, I was impressed by the number of young families. Frankly, the average age of my typical crowd is 60+, which makes sense since the average age of the U.S. rancher is 58. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to visit with so many young people like myself who are establishing their roots in the cattle business and finding success raising beef cattle. It’s a good sign to see the next generation thriving in this business.
Of course, with these great times come great responsibilities. We need to keep in mind the end product as we raise beef cattle on our ranches. That means selecting genetics that will produce the best beef product in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, we need to be mindful of quality and consistency, and we can ensure a great product by following Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines. We need to ensure that our consumers are having a great beef-eating experience every time, and it starts at the cow-calf level.
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An article published in the Farm & Ranch Guide entitled, “Note To Youth Ranchers: Start With End In Mind” echoes my thoughts on this topic.
Mark McCully, vice president of production for the Certified Angus Beef brand, says, "As beef prices have increased, and consumers pay more for our product, their expectations are going with that. And so, we really have to deliver. There's more pressure than ever to deliver a great eating experience, and remember why consumers are buying beef. We're not the cheapest protein out there, and when we spend a lot of money on a product or premium brand, we have a higher expectation level of how that product will perform.”
McCully offered some advice to young people, pointing out that ranchers need to keep quality in mind as they make decisions on the ranch.
“Our traditional way of thinking is we start at the ranch and think about the mother cow only, but when we look at the growth in the high-quality beef sector, the opportunities out there for a young person getting back into this industry are great. I would suggest that, in addition to your focus on great cows, look beyond the commodity business to where there's value added, and where there is a growth in demand. That's clearly in the high-quality side of the beef market.”
Do you think about the end product in your spot on the beef production chain? What are ways you’re working to improve beef for consumers? Are you optimistic about the beef industry? What advice do you have for young ranchers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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