I'm quickly learning the cattle business is a juggling act. There are so many balls to keep up in the air when it comes to the seedstock business. Of course, there are the day-to-day tasks of maintaining the operation. Then, producers also need to keep a watchful eye on the political movements of our adversaries. Finally, it seems like cattlemen are always trying to squeeze a few extra hours out of each day to introduce progressive ideas and new technologies to their business plan. Yet, through the years, one thing has always been a constant -- marketing is an essential tool to a successful cattle operation.
 Our family spent the weekend clipping and picturing bulls for upcoming sales, and the hours spent in the barn lent me some time to ponder on the power of marketing for a livestock producer. Customer mailers, posters, social networking sites, websites, newsletters, consignments in sales and participation in junior shows are the many ways seedstock producers compete for breeder dollars when selling bulls and heifers.
However, when we think about marketing in the cattle business, there's more to it than that. Cattle producers, both big and small, need to place a bigger emphasis on marketing to our consumers. That means using those same marketing tools we use each year to reach our customers in order to polish up our image to the folks buying our beef.
 Consumers today need reffirmation about all the positives regarding the enjoyment of nutritious, delicious beef. In my travels and talks with our consumers, it's incredibly obvious that the list of concerns about our products is growing. Environment, ethics, nutrition and welfare are all areas of concern that need to be addressed. As farmers and ranchers, we can be proud of the way we are stewards of the land and caregivers to the animals, and that's the message we need to be sharing with folks at the grocery store. You can find some great facts and figures on the U.S. beef production story here. Make it your goal in 2011 to get out there and market beef. It should be another ball we juggle in the cattle business today to keep us viable into tomorrow.