by: Bryce Schumann
Chief Executive Officer, American Angus Association
Quality always prevails
As we drive north from Saint Joseph, Mo., the cornfields along the river bottom stretch into the distance. Atop the nearby hillsides, cattle push across pastures, seeking shade on this warm June afternoon. Along the Missouri River Valley, it's easy to see the breadth and scope of American agriculture. More than a century ago, pioneers first settled along the river's banks, turned the soil with plows and pushed their livestock into the meadows.
I had the opportunity to see these things and many others with 20 other Angus producers who participated in the 2009 Beef Leaders Institute (BLI). Together we toured everything from feedlots to a packing plant, to a foodservice distributor, to a natural foods store — pretty much the entire scope of the beef business.
It was an eye-opening experience for all of us, because it forced each of us to see the production system beyond our own fencelines and to gain an appreciation for the challenges and opportunities faced by other sectors in our industry.
No doubt, these are challenging days for agriculture. Consumer demand for beef products has declined in recent months. The nation's cow herd inventory is at its lowest levels in 50 years — and yet cattle prices have not begun to recover.
The American Angus Association has seen its share of challenges as well in recent months. How we recover from these challenges will dictate our breed's strength in the future.
Assuring access to quality
The message of the BLI tour is that, while we face some difficulties in the marketplace, quality always prevails — in good times and bad. No other breed of cattle provides a better and more consistent eating experience for consumers who choose to spend their hard-earned dollars on our product.
Our challenge — and opportunity — is ensuring that consumers of the world have access to the highest-quality beef anywhere. And this can best be achieved through the use of proven Angus genetics.
Our future depends on the production of quality cattle, and in the months ahead we will focus our efforts in delivering this message to commercial producers and feedlot operators across the country. But the Association cannot do it alone. Spreading the good word of Angus — like never before — depends heavily on individual producers across the country who are willing to step up and take action to ensure our share of the marketplace continues to grow.
As you work to promote your program and your cattle, please remember that the American Angus Association stands with you. Our staff of highly qualified and service-oriented employees is ready to assist you, and to work with you to continue to build demand for Angus genetics and Angus beef.
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