Landi McFarland attends 2009 Beef Leaders Institute
Landi McFarland, Hoover Angus Farm, Ellston, Iowa, was one of 20 young members of the American Angus Association selected to participate in the 2009 class of Beef Leaders Institute, May 31 to June 3. BLI is designed to cultivate leaders in the beef industry while enhancing understanding of the total beef production system. This is the second year for BLI, sponsored by the Angus Foundation.
McFarland enjoyed learning more about the aspects of the industry she doesn't see everyday. "Being able to see beyond the commercial and seedstock levels was beneficial to BLI participants to broaden our scope and gain greater appreciation for the entire industry," she says. "The birds' eye view of the industry provided me with the knowledge to effectively communicate with other cattle breeders and even people removed from agriculture. BLI refueled my desire to positively promote animal agriculture in any way I can!"
After an evening and morning of learning more about the American Angus Association and its entities--Angus Productions Inc., Angus Genetics Inc., the Angus Foundation and Certified Angus Beef LLC--the group loaded a bus and headed north, where they spent two days on tours. Tour locations included Tyson's beef processing plant, Dakota City, Neb.; Whole Foods Market, Omaha, Neb.; Gregory Feedlots Inc., Tabor, Iowa; Cargill's Further Processing Facility, Nebraska City, Neb.; SYSCO Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.; the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, Neb.; and Gottsch Cattle Company, Red Cloud, Neb.
Engaging case studies were lead by industry experts in the areas of consumerism and cattle feeding. Tom Field, executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, challenged the beef producers to become more aware of what the average consumer faces at the meat counter by assigning them a beef purchasing project prior to BLI. Each producer had to purchase a cut of beef, evaluate the meat counter and beef packaging and prepare the beef.
Tom Brink, senior vice president and chief risk officer for JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, discussed breaking even and capturing the most profit while feeding cattle and walked the group through several marketing grids.
In addition, Mark Allan, associate director, global technical services with Pfizer Animal Genetics, presented information on the future of genomic enabled selection in the beef industry.
"I will use what I have learned to help educate our customers and other producers about the aspects of the industry beyond the seedstock, cow-calf and feedlot levels," McFarland says. "What we do as beef producers impacts the feedyard, packer, processor and consumer."
BLI is an annual event designed for American Angus Association members 25 to 45 years of age. It is limited to 20 participants to allow for tours and discussion, and is based on application. For more information about the BLI, the Association or Angus Foundation, visit www.angus.org.