What constitutes value in the cattle industry? In the Angus industry? How is value measured? What must we do as an association and as Angus breeders to create value in Angus seedstock?
From the start
The first Angus brought to the United States in 1873 created value by improving quality in beef produced in this country. The founding of the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association in 1883 for the purpose of maintaining the “purity of said breed” added tremendous value to the role Angus cattle would play in future beef production in America.
In the formative years, competition between herds in shows and exhibitions allowed breeders to select for seedstock with desirable physical traits. As technology improved, the adoption of more objective and scientific tools, such as Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR®) and the breed's National Cattle Evaluation (NCE), equipped Angus breeders with the necessary information to improve those characteristics that have a bearing on profitability and efficiency. Value was created.
What have we done to add value to commercial beef production? Little did we realize in the mid-1970s that the ideas incubated in the minds of Harold Etling, Ed Elliott and Fred Johnson regarding the establishment of a quality Angus beef program would lead to the most effective branded beef program in the world.
Adopted by the American Angus Association in 1978 it took almost four years to merchandise the first million pounds. The Certified Angus Beef (CAB) program today is responsible for marketing one million pounds of high-quality Certified
Angus Beef® (CAB®) every 18 hours.
The program has accounted for the sale of more than 500 million pounds of CAB product — five years in a row. Approximately one-half of this amount is absorbed by the retail sector, one-third by foodservice vendors and the remainder through export, specialty markets and value-added heat-and-serve products.
The demand for CAB brand Prime and CAB brand Natural is growing at a phenomenal rate. Further, in late May the media reported the Choice-Select spread to be almost $13 per hundredweight (cwt.) and the CAB-Select spread to be more than $25 per cwt. That's creating value!
That's not all
AngusSource® is proving to be another program that adds value to both the commercial and purebred sectors. Officially approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a Process Verified Program (PVP) in 2006, AngusSource documents genetics, group age, and source of commercial calves sired by registered Angus bulls. When AngusSource-tagged calves top the market or sell for a premium, tremendous value has been added to Angus genetics.
I would certainly be remiss not to cite other programs that have added value to our breed. Our National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) and its good members have created immeasurable value to youth development through the annual Leaders Engaged in Angus Development (LEAD) Conference, the National Junior Angus Show (NJAS) and a host of other activities conducted throughout the year.
The Angus Foundation, through its “Vision of Value: Campaign for Angus,” has embarked on a five-year fundraising quest, which will profoundly affect our future education, research and youth development efforts. There are countless other programs and activities in which your association and its membership are engaged on a daily basis to create value.
So let's just pause for a few minutes and consider what other services we can perform that will add value to the seedstock we produce. …
We must continue to create value. We can't stop now.