Touring a western Kansas feedlot this spring provided a real-world glimpse of the influence of breed associations on our industry. As the bus rolled from one pen to the next the yard manager spoke about the performance and quality of the animals, and of the rancher’s commitment to quality, wholesome beef and ranch profitability. There wasn’t a breed association representative within a hundred miles, but breed influence was prevalent in every pen.
Catalyst of change. Over the past 30-plus years I have witnessed our industry move from an island mentality to one that is consumer focused and driven. Breed associations have played a critical role in that progress, and the Angus Association has been a leader on all fronts. That’s why any hint of instability at Angus is important to every segment of the industry—and why we published our story on page one, Angus Coup Goes Awry.
The success of the Angus breed is admired by many and coveted by rivals. For generations their leaders have been progressive with the entrepreneurial spirit that has taken the breed to levels unimaginable just two decades ago. For instance, fully 15% of today’s fed cattle harvest goes into the Certified Angus Beef Program, easily the most recognizable branded beef program in America. Capitalizing on the success of CAB and the popularity of Angus cattle, the Association has grown to nearly 100 employees with more than $44 million in consolidated assets.
Which makes the events of last April all the more perplexing. How, many commercial and seedstock breeders were left wondering, could such a business part ways with 12% of its work force and nearly 300 years of knowledge and experience?
Angus’ sheer size and industry dominance make it a target. No doubt, some find glee in the breed’s recent controversy. We are not among those. We have long admired the breed and the people who have dedicated their lives to its success.
Our reporting of these events at Angus included four months of interviews with scores of sources from every industry segment. Many sources have spent a lifetime building a herd based on Angus genetics and they’ve hitched their personal reputation to the breed.
Our story was published with the intent of transparency, that because every segment of our
industry is impacted by Angus, everyone should be informed.
Issues facing Angus underscore a tremendous responsibility, one that falls on all those who serve as members of the board of directors and employees at both the Angus Association and Certified Angus Beef, LLC. Indeed, the same responsibility rests on those serving all breeds, only magnified at Angus.
Decisions and actions taken by elected Angus officials and chosen employees affect much more than just a breed of black cattle. It’s an everyday burden that has the potential to impact every producer in every corner of America.
Editorial Director, Beef Today, writes from Mission, Kan.