Having accomplished its goals a year ahead of schedule, the beef industry is revisiting its Long Range Plan to further build strength in consumer demand and increase profitability for cattle producers.

First introduced in 1997, the industry's Long Range Plan goals were to stabilize beef demand by the year 2001 and increase the opportunity for industry profitability. Consumer demand has been stabilized, and, in fact, has increased in each of the last six quarters. In turn, the opportunities for cattle producers to make profits have been significantly enhanced.

A team of beef industry representatives met recently, in Denver, during the Cattle Industry Summer Conference, to begin discussing and outlining a new plan that can keep the industry moving in the right direction. The 15-member Beef Industry Planning Group reviewed the results of the previous plan and set the stage for the planning process.

"The industry is changing rapidly, and we want to make sure cattle producers are part of the change, not a victim of it," according to Paul Genho, Kingsville, TX, co-chairman of the planning group. "Planning is an important process in any business, and especially ours."

Among priorities established in the first Long Range Plan were to elevate beef's healthy role in all diets; emphasize food safety; add value to beef through out the production, processing and global marketing systems; provide customers with convenient, consistent and favorable beef products through new product development; and create a business climate that would better assure profitability. These priorities were attacked successfully over the past three years, Genho says.

According to Co-chairman Bill Brandenberg, El Centro, CA, the industry needs to maintain its momentum and set its sights on new goals that will carry it to new heights. "There is no doubt that our efforts over the past three years have been partly responsible for the increased optimism and focus for the industry," Brandenberg says. "It is our intention to generate even more excitement about the opportunities we will have for profitability in the future."

During their two-day session, in Denver, the Beef Industry Planning Group defined its mission and objectives and established operating procedures, as well as a timeline. In addition, the planning group discussed with experts inside and outside the industry what the beef industry likely will face in the next three to five years, identifying future challenges and opportunities that the new plan must address.

Action on the proposed Long Range Plan is expected to be taken at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention, in San Antonio, TX, Feb. 1 to 4.

High Plains area members of the planning group include: J.D. Alexander, Pilger, NE; Paul Genho, Kingsville, TX; John Grande, Martinsdale, MT; Steve Harper, San Antonio, TX; James Herring, Amarillo, TX; Jan Lyons, Manhattan, KS; Charlie Mostek, Dakota Dunes, SD; Dave Nichols, Bridgewater, IA; and Marvin Walter, Ames, IA.

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