Steve McPherson, Triple Tree Farm, Snow Camp, N.C., was one of 20 young members of the American Angus Association® selected to participate in the 2009 class of the Beef Leaders Institute (BLI), May 31-June 3. BLI is designed to cultivate leaders in the beef industry while enhancing understanding of the total beef production system. This is the second year for BLI, sponsored by the Angus Foundation.

“I enjoyed touring the processing plant in Dakota City. This was my first tour of a processing plant, and I have to admit, I was in awe,” McPherson says. “A close second would be the attendees; I really enjoyed getting to know them.”

McPherson admits that he was slightly burned out prior to attending BLI, but feels that his fire has been refueled. He is ready to take his new-found information back to producers in his area, and continue being an active leader.

“The BLI is a great booster to make me want to remain active and try to make an impact on the industry,” he says. “With the contacts and experiences I have enjoyed this week I can help our state association develop a program to help our membership sponsor an AngusSource® sale.”

After an evening and morning of learning more about the American Angus Association and its entities—Angus Productions Inc. (API), Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI), the Angus Foundation and Certified Angus Beef (CAB) LLC—the group loaded a bus and headed north, where they spent two days on tours. Tour locations included Tyson's beef processing plant, Dakota City, Neb.; Whole Foods Market, Omaha, Neb.; Gregory Feedlots Inc., Tabor, Iowa; Cargill's Further Processing Facility, Nebraska City, Neb.; SYSCO Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.; the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb.; and Gottsch Cattle Company, Red Cloud, Neb.

Engaging case studies were lead by industry experts in the areas of consumerism and cattle feeding. Tom Field, executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, challenged the beef producers to become more aware of what the average consumer faces at the meat counter by assigning them a beef purchasing project prior to BLI. Each producer had to purchase a cut of beef, evaluate the meat counter and beef packaging and prepare the beef.

Tom Brink, senior vice president and chief risk officer for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, discussed breaking even and capturing the most profit while feeding cattle and walked the group through several marketing grids.

In addition, Mark Allan, associate director, global technical services with Pfizer Animal Genetics, presented information on the future of genomic enabled selection in the beef industry.

BLI is an annual event designed for American Angus Association members 25-45 years of age. It is limited to 20 participants to allow for tours and discussion, and is based on application. For more information about BLI, the Association or Angus Foundation, visit


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