Farm Talk

February 21, 2013

Solid returns predicted for cow/calf operators

by Kenny Ragland
CNHI

Parsons, Kansas — Individual farmers need to promote their beef cattle in conversations with consumers.

Daren Williams, executive director of communications for the National Beef Association, encouraged all producers to get out and tell their story at the recent 4-State Beef Conference in King City, Mo.

Speaking via computer teleconference, Williams spoke to audiences in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

“Our staff at the national association is very good,” said Williams, “but they must work together with producers to increase resources for a positive consumer message.”

Activist organizations can portray hardworking family cattlemen in poor light.

“We need to have a new concept of thinking of our beef industry as a community,” Williams said. “It should not be promoted as an industrial company.”

U.S. cattlemen raise 20 percent of the world beef with only seven percent of the world’s cattle. Over 97 percent of the cattle are raised on family farms.

“Consumers in and around the world all say that the U.S. beef is the best,” Williams said. “We have got to promote that, and as a beef community.”

Having favorable ratings by the general public make an important difference.

“Politicians who are elected commonly have a 75 percent favorable rating,” Williams said. “Our beef industry currently has only a 42 percent favorable rating. We have got to do a better job talking about how we raise healthy and wholesome beef.”

Williams went over some successes regarding beef safety.

“In 1993 six children died from e-coli after eating undercooked hamburger,” Williams said. “Our goal was to reduce the incidence of e-coli outbreaks to one in 100,000 people. We met that goal in 2010.”

Obtaining beef certifications from the American Humane Society can be a way to make U.S. beef look good to the world.

“I encourage producers to get these,” Williams said. “It really looks good to consumers. And I agree you already know how to raise your animals.”

Market Analyst Todd Kalous with CattleFax spoke to the same multi-locale audience about market predictions.

“The next 24 months are likely to be as difficult for margin operators as anytime in history,” said Kalous. “Growers who can make it through will see solid returns over the next three-four years, if the rains come.”

Demand for beef will rise.

“Analysts expect to see an increase in world demand for beef,” Kalous said. “This will be key to sustained expansion of the local market.”

Tighter markets will make for some high prices.

“Smaller cattle supplies and recovering demand will drive prices to record high levels,” Kalous said. “This should start to stabilize in the year 2015, possibly some in 2014.”

The need for borrowed money has and will continue to increase.

“Credit needs went up 63 percent since 2009,” Kalous said. “That is a 112 percent increase since the year 2000.”

For more information, go online to www.cattlefax. com.

For information on obtaining humane beef certifications, go to http://www. americanhumane.org/ani mals/programs/farm-ani mal-welfare.html. £