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Capturing Value

Angus University marketing session brings together seedstock producers, commercial cattlemen and industry representatives.


Troy Marshall (left) moderates a panel where Doug Stanton, Tracy Woods, Lydia Yon and Travis Mitchell shared ways breeders can connect their customers to marketing options.

It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.” Fortunately, change and innovation run aplenty in the cattle business. 

In November, the 2023 Angus Convention’s Capturing Value panel discussed marketing strategies for seedstock and  commercial cattlemen and how they can work together to increase profitability.  

The panelists — Travis Mitchell with Clemson Extension, South Carolina Cattlemen’s Association and Mitchell Farms; Lydia Yon, Yon Family Farms; Tracy Woods, 44 Farms; and Doug Stanton, IMI Global — encouraged producers to take advantage of value-added programs and to stay informed about industry trends and opportunities.  

Together they represented a variety of experiences and marketing strategies, having worked with producers from across the United States, whether selling at local livestock auctions or large video sales, and of varied herd sizes. 


Working together 

From a seedstock perspective, Woods and Yon shared how they help their customers market their cattle. Taking place at Angus Convention, about half of the session’s audience self-identified as seedstock producers. 

“We definitely are data-driven, but we also try to be very tuned in to what our customers need from us and what we need to do to help facilitate them being profitable,” Yon said. 

Yon Family Farms, based in Ridge Spring, S.C., hosts two sales a year, selling around 450 bulls annually. She said herd sizes in the Southeast present another challenge — trying to stay competitive even when producers are not able to sell cattle as load lots on their own. 

“I’m going to be the first person to tell you I’m not an expert on G.A.P. (Global Animal Partnership Certification),” Yon said. “I’m not an expert on what it requires to be an NHTC (Non-Hormone Treated Cattle) or All-Natural. I understand the concepts. I follow the programs, but I can’t go to somebody’s farm and say, ‘You need to do this.’ But what I can provide is an opportunity for them to come and learn from the experts.” 

Both from Saluda County, Yon and Mitchell work together. Mitchell presents to local producers, discussing marketing options and how to make the most of the value they have created. 

“With Extension, I’m in the relationship business,” he said. “I serve a lot of time throughout the day and the week of being a liaison between the seedstock producer and the commercial cattlemen, or between the commercial cattlemen and the verification agency, however that might look.” 


Proof is in the pudding 

For around 10 years, Mitchell has helped organize sales at his local livestock auction twice annually for farmers and ranchers working together to make uniform load lots. He coordinates with his county’s cattlemen’s association. 

“They’re doing a good job of going out, making the right genetic selections, and we want to make sure that they’re getting paid for that,” Mitchell said.  

Additionally, they have implemented uniform vaccination protocols and G.A.P. Certification for the cattle included in the sales. Some of those sellers are Yon customers. 

“They might’ve had only two or three people bidding on their calves competitively when they sold them,” Yon said. “Now that they can have those tags [and value-added programs] on their lots when they sell them, they might have five or six people bidding, and you all know what that does.” 

Mitchell estimates 25% of the producers involved in the sales get carcass data back from buyers, and that percentage is growing. 

An audience member asked Woods about the effects of carcass data. As the chief genetics officer for 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, he helps build supply chains to meet consumers’ demands for high-quality meat. 

“I think 90% of the people that we give the carcass data back to, really, they want to make it better for both parties,” Woods said. “They obviously want to wean more weight. They want you to buy a heavier calf, but they want an end product that everybody is going to want, and that’s the Certified Angus Beef ® [brand].” 

The 44 Farms buy-back program and its Prime Intelligence database allow the operation to return a large amount of data to cow-calf producers after processing. 


Seeking more profit 

Stanton explained the current status of verification services and what those resources can do within the current cattle market. 

“We’ve seen record prices and really good prices on the calves and the yearlings compared to a year ago,” he said. “We expect that to continue for the next two to three years. We have been a little pleasantly surprised by the fact that premiums in the marketplace have been at or above the base price of what they were over the last couple of years.” 

IMI Global is an agricultural and food verification and certification company. Stanton helps manage beef verification programs like Age and Source, AngusLinkSM value-added programs, NHTC claims and others. 

“Third-party verification is essential for validation of whatever trait it is,” he said. “You have a little more money in your pocket, and it’s a good time to try [value-added programs], because we feel like the premiums are still going to be there in the marketplace.” 

Woods says many producers are already doing the work needed to qualify and enrolling allows them to get paid for adding value. 

“A lot of people don’t want to be at the top of the totem pole, if you will, but they want to get some recognition for the good things that they’re doing,” he said. 

For the Process Verified Programs IMI Global offers, an application is the first step.  

As a self-assigned liaison between these types of programs and local cattlemen, Mitchell knows a little guidance goes a long way to get them through the learning curve.  

“What I’ve noticed over my Extension career is commercial cattlemen do a great job of raising cattle,” Mitchell said. “They do a great job of taking care of calves, weaning, vaccinations, spending their money on the right genetics; but they lack sometimes in making sure that they’re marketing those cattle. As a commercial cattle producer, take responsibility in marketing your cattle, and reach out and use these resources that are available to you.”   


 
Verification = Customer Service

Troy Marshall, director of commercial industry relations for the Association, served as moderator for the Capturing Value panel and shared some thoughts on what this conversation and the current marketplace means for members and their customers. 

“I think it’s a very exciting time for us as Angus breeders,” he says. “The value of genetics has gone up, and I think it’s going to increase as we talk about this market in the next 4-5 years.” 

One way to document genetic potential and signal added value to buyers is with AngusLink programs. 

“From a seedstock perspective, AngusLink is really a customer service tool,” Marshall says. “We talk about genetics and marketing and verification and all these things and kind of the hard facts, but really when we talk about marketing and creating value, it’s a relationship business.” 

Assisting customers wanting to enroll in AngusVerifiedSM or the Genetic Merit ScorecardSM  can be as simple as helping them transfer a bull’s registration or providing contact information for AngusLink from www.AngusLink.com


Editor’s note: Marshall can be contacted at 816-383-5150.   

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