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Harlan Ritchie Symposium Recap

By: Dr. Emily Taylor, Purdue University, West Lafayette Indiana

The Importance of Recognizing Economic Factors Influencing the Beef Industry, Bill Rishel – Rishel Angus

Bill Rishel began the Harlan Ritchie Symposium discussing historical events that lead to considerable economic shifts within the beef industry, like, Educational organizations, Beef Improvement Federation, Artificial Insemination, Certified Angus Beef Program, EPDS, and more. While these shifts impacted the industry in a positive way, we have to be careful with small changes that can push us off track very quickly. Changes to breed do not always mean improvements.
Mr. Rishel continued discussing recent research that would allow our animals to be more efficient. More studies are needed for selecting optimums of traits, potential integrated systems to reduce costs, identifying SNP that could be included in commercial marker panels, and direct-fed microbials. The industry is on the verge of large changes due to consumer perspectives, and we must get ahead of the change. Our industry’s future sustainability is three-dimensional that includes social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and economic viability. 

How Will the Purebred Association Adapt to a Changing Beef Industry, Mark McCully – American Angus Association

Mark McCully began his presentation discussing where the American Angus Association stands today and their multiple subsidiaries Certified Angus Beef, Angus Media, Angus Foundation, and Angus Genetics Inc. This leads us into discussing adaptation, the need to ‘Adapt or Die.’ The first goal of a breed association is to support its members. The world is changing, and therefore, their members. Making sure they are ready for change and implementing changes quickly and efficiently will benefit them greatly. Mr. McCully then gave a list of how breed associations will maintain relevance within the industry. 

- Guard against complacency

- Stay nimble – change is fast and make decisions fast and efficient way. 

- Embrace Change

- #3 trying to get #2 philosophy – what would you implement to get there.  

- Serve a diverse membership while maintaining commercial industry value and significance 

- Adopt disruptive technologies 

- Data, data, data 

- Deliver selection tools focused on profitability and biological balance

- Provide marketing assistance and supply chain integration

- Deliver value-added programs that create pull-through demand

- Offer valuable educational resources

- Leader in genetic research and breed advancement

Genetics Industry Infrastructure: How Are Artificial Insemination Organizations Adapting to Changes in the Beef Industry?, Dr. Bo Harstein – Select Sires

The use of sexed semen in the dairy industry has saturated the market with females. This ultimately has increased the beef on dairy market. Dr. Harstein discussed new supply chain programs in place to aid dairy producers in refining calves’ requirements entering the market. These programs work with dairy producers, a calf range network, a feedlot network, and the packers. It is predicted that 1.6 – 2 million calves will enter this network in the next year. 

The current supply chain program used by Select Sires begins with Profitmx - Profitmax manages the genetics of beef sires used in the crossbreeding program, and ProfitSource operates a network of calf ranches and feedlots facilitating a strong relationship to packers for dairy producers. An additional program offered by Select Sires is Herdflex, which would allow dairy producers to put beef embryos in their females. These programs would inherently put more pressure on beef bulls to outperform their previous years’ collections. While Dr. Harstein did provide data proving that beef bulls could perform, the intense push for larger quantities does yield in lower-quality semen. 

What Is the Impact of Dairy Influence Cattle on the Traditional Beef Industry Structure, Dr. Bradley Johnson – Texas Tech University

The current presentation by Dr. Bradley Johnson offered a more economic view of the impact of the beef on dairy market. Over the last few years, even more increasingly in the last few months, we see this increasing trend of beef on dairy genetics. In February of 21, the industry hit over 50% of all cattle market genetics were a beef x dairy breed.
Dr. Johnson provided data that supported an improvement in carcass characteristics of those animals with beef influence. However, they did observe a decrease in tenderness and the odd shape of steaks. Also, while the beef genetics provide a carcass with better marbling, they tend to fall short on hindquarter muscling. This issue and liver abscesses need to be addressed as beef on dairy breeds are increased. Because liver abscesses are very prominent in dairy breeds, he stressed the need to establish a better reduction/prevention plan.
There is also value in the producer retaining ownership of these animals; however, a supply chain program, like previously mentioned by Dr. Hasteins, is warranted. 

The Beef Industry in a Post-Pandemic World, Dr. Derrell Peel – Oklahoma State University

Dr. Derrell Peel gave a comprehensive overview of how the recent pandemic has influenced the beef markets. The foodservice sector and the retail sector require very different supply chains. As we saw an almost halt to the foodservice sector, a large bottleneck was left within this chain. Cattle were left in feedlots, and disruptions in packing and processing increased. Consumer concerns with the reliability and safety of their beef products also were heightened.
While this leads to drastic fluctuations of beef products during the beginning months of the pandemic, the market has ultimately recovered; however, long-term fluctuations are likely. We may see a more permanent increase of food at home and/or an increase in take-out and delivery markets, which has led to some blending of the foodservice and retail sectors. Overall, Dr. Peel described a system that worked! While some procurement and risk management practices may change, the supply chains will most likely stay the same to reduce any insufficiency or increases in beef costs. 

An unedited recording of this symposium can be found on the meeting website.