Angus Moves Forward in 2020
Challenges, success define fiscal year for the Association and its entities.
by Whitney Whitaker, American Angus Association
The American Angus Association posted a strong fiscal year 2020. It was the sixth consecutive year with more than 300,000 registrations, and there were 142,651 total transfers. Regular and junior membership totaled 25,000, and Montana topped the list with the highest number of registered head at 34,113 for the fiscal year that closed Sept. 30.
“Without question, this year was loaded with uncertainty and change,” says Mark McCully, American Angus Association CEO. “There was no playbook or history lesson to reference, and many days, we all felt like we were working on the airplane while flying it. But through the challenges, I want to thank both our members and our team at the Association. I am thankful for the strength of the Angus family that proved even a year like 2020 could not slow us down.”
Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, production sales and averages held strong — $4,884 for bulls and $3,970 for females. Association regional managers helped members navigate the daily changes associated with holding in-person sales and events, and that set the tone for in-office staff support of the membership.
Angus Genetics Inc.
Joel Cowley began as president of Angus Genetics Inc. (AGI) this spring, and the team rolled out new expected progeny differences (EPDs) and dollar value indexes ($Indexes). The hair shedding and pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) EPDs were released this year, along with a combined value index ($C). That genetic tool characterizes profitability differences across the entire supply chain.
Giving dairymen a tool to better match Angus genetics in their calf programs, two new Angus-on-Dairy value indexes were released: Angus-on-Holstein ($AxH) and Angus-on-Jersey ($AxJ).
The AGI team processed 165,745 genomic profile tests — a 3.69% increase from 2019 — and recorded a 22.6% increase in the total number of genotyped animals in the database when compared to 2019.
In early 2020, the AngusLink℠ suite of USDA Process Verified Programs (PVP) were combined with the Genetic Merit Scorecard®, offering members many ways to add value. Enrollments increased by 70.3%, up 37,199 head to settle at 90,104 total.
Cattle enrolled in some part of the PVP programs brought home a $9.93 per hundredweight (cwt.) premium on average. Calves sired by registered Angus bulls captured an additional $6.73 per cwt. compared to their non-Angus sired contemporaries.
AngusLink’s partnership with EarthClaims, LLC created another opportunity to add value, allowing cattlemen the ability to enroll in Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and seek additional premiums on the auction block.
Certified Angus Beef LLC
For the fifth consecutive year, Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand sales topped more than 1 billion pounds (lb.) across 52 countries. The final tally hit 1.175 billion lb., down just 6% from the previous year.
“The credit goes to the producers who keep a consistent supply of qualifying Angus cattle,” says John Stika, Certified Angus Beef, LLC president.
For the first time ever, 35.9% of Angus-influenced cattle qualified for the brand’s 10 quality specifications. Additionally, CAB’s Targeting the Brand™ logo utilization grew by 76% this year, helping commercial cattlemen identify genetics more likely to produce CAB qualifiers.
Partners showed creativity and resiliency, but at the spring peak of the pandemic in April and May, foodservice and international sales were down 72% and 64%, respectively. Retail business was up almost 44%. Putting all 12 months together, retail had a record year, increasing by 12%, while foodservice and international sales were down roughly 22%.
CAB is set to support licensees as consumers still look to beef, just in new ways, Stika says. The brand launched its new consumer brand loyalty program, Steakholder RewardsTM, this year as a way to build relationships.
With the guidance of Thomas Marten, the newly hired executive director of the Angus Foundation, the three components of the Angus Foundation — youth, education and research — continued their upward momentum.
Angus juniors received 133 academic scholarships and Leaders Engaged in Angus Development (LEAD) conference awards, totaling $312,750. More than 1,000 new National Junior Angus Association (NJAA) members joined the Angus family in 2020.
Research funding reached $126,000 in the form of grants designed to advance science to answer questions that affect both registered and commercial breeders.
“More than ever, the Angus Media team, including regional managers in the field and staff in the office, were an indispensable partner for Angus breeders,” says Brett Spader, Angus Media president.
Despite pandemic-related uncertainties, regional managers attended 760 sales this year, the Angus Journal reached more than 40 million page views and the Angus Beef Bulletin® reached 52 million page views. Angus Media saved members $450,000 due to negotiated printing rates and a new per-page pricing structure. In the digital space, online sale books reached 34.5 million views with advertisers amassing 4.5 million digital ad impressions. The team also created or coordinated 309 websites during the fiscal year.
In an effort to advance and tailor the Association’s educational resources for members and cattlemen alike, Angus University debuted. Seven webinars, with 5,029 participants, covered everything from “Focus on Fertility” to “Facts About Foot Scoring.” Post-event surveys indicate more than 99% of participants found them to be helpful.
Editor’s note: To see the 2020 Annual Report with more information about the past year, visit www.angus.org/annualreport.