Get in Front of Cattlemen at NCBA

Partner with IBBA and come face-to-face with other cattlemen at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Annual Convention and Trade Show February 4-7, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. The oldest and largest convention for the cattle business, the NCBA trade show provides a unique, fun environment for cattle industry members to come together. Do not be the one missing out! Join us in Nashville to help promote Brangus.

Download the flyer for package options and more information. Commitments must be made by Friday, December 13. Email Lindsey Matli or call her at 210-696-8231 today to reserve your spot in the GoBrangus booth!

NCBA participation flyer

Successful Brangus Producer Knows What Customers Want

By Brittni Drennan, IBBA Communications Coordinator

Don and Sherry Atkinson

Anyone who is an expert in marketing will tell you the key to a successful marketing plan is to know your audience. When you know who your audience is, you can better serve them and market a product that fits their needs. Don Atkinson may not claim to be an expert in marketing, but he knows exactly who his customers are and what kind of product will fit the needs of their operation.

“I want my customers to be successful in their endeavors,” Atkinson said. “I know my product and offer customers one type of cow that can thrive in their environment.”

A fourth generation cattleman, Atkinson knew at an early age what his calling was in life. Running cattle has always been a staple and a way of life in his family. Atkinson partnered with his father until his passing in 2001, and Atkinson took full ownership of the business and began ranching full time. His ultimate goal is to be remembered for creating a mother cow that thrives in her environment and maintains longevity.

Together, Atkinson and his wife of almost five years, Sherry, run 240 commercial Brangus cows and some registered Brangus cattle in Mullins, S.C. Atkinson switched to breeding Brangus when he bought his first bull in 1990 from Graham DuBose and John Spitzer. After breeding his commercial herd to the Brangus bull, he realized the advantages Brangus genetics had to offer, especially for the environment he was surrounded by near the east coast.

“People need to take advantage of crossbreeding to take advantage of all the opportunities hybrid vigor provides,” Atkinson said. “Crossbreeding allows producers to incorporate all the benefits of improved weaning weights, milk, [intramuscular fat] IMF and others.”

Shortly after buying his first bull and being pleased with his results, Atkinson went to Cow Creek’s Brangus sale in Mocksville, N.C., where he was introduced to Joe Reznicek’s breeding program. Atkinson has now been using genetics from Cow Creek for the last 21 years by utilizing artificial insemination (AI) techniques.

In 2010, Atkinson began breeding his Brangus cows to a registered Angus bull to create Ultrablack calves, following Reznicek’s model. According to Atkinson, his customers in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama want purebred Brangus to perform better in a harsher climate. However, Ultrablack cattle enable him to market his Brangus genetics to his customers farther north of the Gulf Coast states.

2012 Weaned Heifer Crop

“If I’m selling to a breeder in Florida, they need to be Brangus to withstand the heat and humidity,” Atkinson said. “Here, not as many people take advantage of the heat tolerance that Brangus provide. They want Ultrablack bulls with a little less percentage Brahman blood. Registered Ultrablacks allow us to introduce Brangus genetics to those who are skeptical.”

Continue reading

Georgia Cattleman Attends YCC Conference and Industry Tour

Andrew Conley, general manager at Blackwater Cattle Company in Lake Park, Ga.

Andrew Conley, general manager of Blackwater Cattle Company, was one of  more than 50 young cattlemen and women selected to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) 33rd Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC). Conley was sponsored by the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association. The YCC program is a comprehensive, nationwide tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in your beef industry professionals.

“YCC is a prestigious and competitive program designed to foster the future leadership of our industry,” said Forrest Roberts, NCBA chief executive officer. “The participants selected to attend YCC were chosen because of their exceptional contributions to the beef industry and their potential to be a strong voice in our future development. I look forward to seeing Andrew take an increased leadership role within NCBA and the beef industry.”

Conley grew up on a cow-calf operation in Blairsville, Ga., and was active in showing and judging livestock through 4-H. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College and Georgia Southern University.

Conley served the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association in 2011 as an Executive Committee Member and is currently the president of his local cattlemen’s association. Andrew also currently serves as General Manager at Blackwater Cattle Company in Lake Park, Ga., where he oversees 1,200 head of commercial and registered Brangus cattle.

His intensive management practices have helped his operation excel in many areas to include health and reproduction, as Conley practices cutting edge husbandry techniques. Blackwater has also held the distinction of hosting four high averaging bull sales within the Brangus breed. Conley said YCC was an opportunity to learn more about the issues facing the beef industry in order to be a better advocate back home. Conley’s hobbies include fishing and livestock auctioneering.

“This was a tremendous opportunity to meet other producers and learn valuable tools to take back home to our operations,” he said. “It’s great to learn how we as producers can have an impact on policy issues as well.”

The eight day tour began at NCBA headquarters in Denver, Colo., where participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program. While in Denver, the group also heard from representatives of Cattle Fax and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. They toured a Safeway retail store and learned about Rancher’s Reserve brand beef marketing efforts. The group spent a day in Greeley, Colo., visiting JBS Five Rivers feed yards and processing facilities.

“It is really important for participants to see each sector of the beef industry – from farm to fork,” said Conley. “Traveling from a cow/calf ranch to a feedlot and processing plant really drives home the point that our industry is composed of many sectors, sectors that are all striving to produce a healthy end product.”

In Chicago, the group met with the senior management of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the Chicago Board of Trade. They had the chance to watch the activity on the trading floor and witness futures trading firsthand. Participants also visited Otto & Sons Industries, a family owned company providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry since 1909. This tour offered a view of how boxed beef is turned into custom order portions for both major restaurant chains and some of the nation’s top steakhouses.

The group then traveled to Washington, D.C., where participants were greeted at a reception hosted by John Deere. The following morning, the group received an issues briefing from NCBA’s government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry.

Later in the day, these future leaders were given the opportunity to visit one-on-one with members of their state’s congressional delegation, expressing their viewpoints regarding the beef industry and their cattle operations. During their congressional visits, participants focused on issues including the 2012 Farm Bill, federal lands ranching and overreaching regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group then traveled to Aldie, Va., for a tour and barbeque at Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations.

For more information on the YCC program or to nominate someone for next year’s tour, contact your state cattlemen’s association or Marvin Kokes at 303-850-3339 or mkokes@beef.org.

Visit the IBBA website at www.GoBrangus.com to learn more about commercial marketing programs and to find a Brangus breeder near you.

Spitzer Attends Elite Beef Industry Conference

Ben Spitzer IBBA’s Marketing Programs Director

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2012) – Ben Spitzer of the International Brangus Breeders Association, was one of  more than 50 young cattlemen and women selected to participate in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) 33rd Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC). Spitzer was sponsored by the Texas Cattlemen’s Association. The YCC program is a comprehensive, nationwide tour of beef industry sectors, created to enhance leadership skills in your beef industry professionals.

“YCC is a prestigious and competitive program designed to foster the future leadership of our industry,” said Forrest Roberts, NCBA chief executive officer. “The participants selected to attend YCC were chosen because of their exceptional contributions to the beef industry and their potential to be a strong voice in our future development. I look forward to seeing Ben take an increased leadership role within NCBA and the beef industry.” 

Ben Spitzer grew up in the cattle business in a family where beef involvement goes back several generations and has included both commercial cattle and registered cattle of several breeds. Spitzer attended Oklahoma State University (OSU) and majored in Animal Science with an animal production emphasis. Upon graduation from OSU, he made the decision to continue his formal education at Colorado State University (CSU) and enrolled in the Integrated Resource Management Master’s Degree program in 2004.

Upon graduating from CSU, he accepted the position of Communications/Member Services Director with the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA) in Denton, Texas. Spitzer then took the position of General Manager of Salacoa Valley Farms, Fairmount, Georgia in July of 2007. Finally in June of 2010, Spitzer accepted the position of Marketing Programs Director at the IBBA. In this position he oversees IBBA’s Commercial Marketing Programs as well as advertising and promotion of the Brangus breed.

Spitzer was a founding member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Young Producers Council (YPC) and served as the YPC delegate to the NCBA Membership Committee. He served as Chair of YPC in 2010 and in 2011 served in an advisory role to YPC as Immediate Past Chair.

“This was a tremendous opportunity to meet other producers and learn valuable tools to take back home to our operations,” he said. “It’s great to learn how we as producers can have an impact on policy issues as well.”

The eight day tour began at NCBA headquarters in Denver, Colo., where participants were given an organizational overview of NCBA and the Beef Checkoff Program. While in Denver, the group also heard from representatives of Cattle Fax and the U.S. Meat Export Federation. They toured a Safeway retail store and learned about Rancher’s Reserve brand beef marketing efforts. The group spent a day in Greeley, Colo., visiting JBS Five Rivers feed yards and processing facilities.

“It is really important for participants to see each sector of the beef industry – from farm to fork,” said Spitzer. “Traveling from a cow/calf ranch to a feedlot and processing plant really drives home the point that our industry is composed of many sectors, sectors that are all striving to produce a healthy end product.”

In Chicago, the group met with the senior management of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the Chicago Board of Trade. They had the chance to watch the activity on the trading floor and witness futures trading firsthand. Participants also visited Otto & Sons Industries, a family owned company providing quality products and custom solutions for the food industry since 1909. This tour offered a view of how boxed beef is turned into custom order portions for both major restaurant chains and some of the nation’s top steakhouses.

The group then traveled to Washington, D.C., where participants were greeted at a reception hosted by John Deere. The following morning, the group received an issues briefing from NCBA’s government affairs staff about policy issues currently facing the cattle industry.

Later in the day, these future leaders were given the opportunity to visit one-on-one with members of their state’s congressional delegation, expressing their viewpoints regarding the beef industry and their cattle operations. During their congressional visits, participants focused on issues including the 2012 Farm Bill, federal lands ranching and overreaching regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The group then traveled to Aldie, Va., for a tour and barbeque at Whitestone Farms, one of the nation’s elite purebred Angus operations.

For more information on the YCC program or to nominate someone for next year’s tour, contact your state cattlemen’s association or Marvin Kokes at 303-850-3339 or mkokes@beef.org.

Visit www.GoBrangus.com to learn more about Brangus marketing programs and take advantage of advertising opportunities.

Committed to Quality

Brangus producers have had a long-standing commitment to quality, and now the IBBA is partnering with BQA to improve our product for consumers. At www.bqa.org you’ll find an array of educational material to help you improve management practices and your breeding program. To find a breeder near you, check out GoBrangus.com.

Pink Slime: What is it exactly?

After several days of following articles, posts, tweets, links, etc. about this topic, we think the following blog post on Common Sense Agriculture’s Blog is the most descriptive, accurate summary explaining what the media is calling ‘Pink Slime’. Feel free to tell us or Jeff what you think. Check out the links at the end of the post for further reading.

Enjoy!

Pink Shirts, Pink Ties and Pink Slime

By Jeff Fowle, Editor of Common Sense Agriculture’s Blog

“Pink Slime” has hit the media yet again in recent days. Several of my friends in social media have inquired what my thoughts were on a number of videos and news reports: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ‘70% of Americas Beef Is Treated With Ammonia,’ Fox News Report ‘Pink Slime in 70% Of Ground Beef,’ and ABC News ‘Where You Can Get Pink-Slime Free Beef,’ were the three most cited.

Can you imagine taking fresh picked fruit, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, sticking it in a blender, cooking it, putting it in a jar and then selling it for human consumption? Most of us do, by purchasing jelly and jam to go with our peanut butter.

Can you imagine taking fresh picked lettuce or spinach, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, putting it in a package, selling it, buying it, opening it, adding croutons, tomato and ranch dressing and then eating it? Many of us do, purchasing prepackaged salad to eat before supper.

This post is not intended to promote, nor condemn the practice of utilizing ammonium hydroxide, but rather to present some facts and allow you to make your own decisions. This is not a “new” process, nor is it solely utilized by the meat industry. The questions are those that I have been asked over the past four days.

1.       What is ammonium hydroxide?

Ammonium hydroxide is ammonia mixed with water and is found naturally in the air, water, soil, all plants and animals and is produced by the human body. All living things need proteins, which are made up of twenty different amino acids. Plants and micro-organisms can make most amino acids from nitrogen in the atmosphere, but animals cannot. Ammonia is a very important in the nitrogen cycle, protein synthesis and helps maintain the body’s pH balance.

2.       Is ammonia really used in food processing?

Ammonia in a variety of forms is used for leavening, pH control and surface finishing. Ammonium bicarbonate and phosphate are used as leavening agents ‘yeast food’ and dough strengtheners and are listed as acceptable in natural and organic food markets. Ammonia hydroxide, while already present in muscle tissue, is added to muscle that is not immediately packaged (more on this later) to change the pH to eliminate and reduce risk of ecoli and salmonella bacteria. The list of foods that ammonium hydroxide is used in includes: cheeses, chocolate, pudding, relishes, jams, fruits, vegetables, cereals, sports drinks and beer, to name a few. Remember, ammonia is naturally occurring and plays a vital role in maintaining health of both plants, animals and humans.

3.       Is ammonium hydroxide safe?

In 1974 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) listed ammonium hydroxide as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). It is also recognized as being safe by other countries, the European Union, the JECFA (Joint Expert Committee of Food Additives) of the U.N.’s FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and the WHO (World Health Organization). Ammonia vapor can be harmful at high levels, as can consumption of the liquid form. While it is possible, in theory, to consume a lethal level of ammonia, because of its very strong smell and taste, a human or animal would be repulsed and unlikely to actually eat it. When used in the processing of fruits, meat and vegetables, only food grade ammonium hydroxide is utilized and the ammonia evaporates prior to packaging.

4.       Do they really use ‘dog food’ meat?

Hamburger is muscle and fat tissue that is not sold as retail cut. Trim, the muscle and fat that is cut away from steaks, roasts and stew meat, has always been utilized in hamburger. As a rule of thumb, younger animals yield less hamburger; older animals tend to yield more hamburger.  The reason that older cattle yield more hamburger is simply due to the fact that their muscle tissue tends to be tougher and less desirable in the form of steaks Younger cattle are typically more tender, thus more of their carcass goes to retail cuts. Whether an animal is young or old, fat is trimmed from the muscle and then added back in order to package a hamburger product that is “lean.” I share this because historically all the trim was utilized in hamburger. However, in the 80’s, “lean” became the demand and so the trimmings of fat were removed and used for other purposes, ie dog food. It was quickly realized that there was a tremendous amount of high quality lean beef being lost in providing “lean” product and so a process to stop the waste was developed. For me personally, when I have a steer, heifer or bull cut and wrapped for the freezer, I have our butcher put all of the trimmings into hamburger. I like the fat. Fat is where the flavor comes from and without it, patties fall apart.

5.       Is the process described in the reports accurate?

Trimmings and cuts deemed to be low value (the chuck and top round most often)  are set aside for use as hamburger, sausage and other products. All of the muscle is trimmed by hand to establish a lean product and trimmings. The trimmings are then heated and put in a centrifuge to separate the remaining muscle from the fat. It is then “misted” with ammonium hydroxide to drop the pH and address the potential risk of ecoli and salmonella due to the heating and it evaporates; it is not “poured” in, or thrown in a washing machine as depicted by Jamie Oliver. The lean product then has fat added back to it in an amount to provide a “lean” label and have the ability to maintain the form of patty. As a side note, some carcasses are “too lean” and fat has to be added to the lean in order for it to retain its shape as patty; fat often from another carcass. Also, as a personal note, where I have my beef cut and wrapped, I ask my butcher to add some pork fat to my hamburger to add a unique flavor…the essence of bacon J.

In conclusion, I leave you with the following thoughts. Ammonium hydroxide is naturally occurring and safe for consumption. Trimmings are used with low value muscle for making hamburger and sausage and to eliminate the risk of ecoli and salmonella, are misted with ammonium hydroxide. I do not like “lean” hamburger and instruct my butcher to include all of the trimmings, no fat missing (sometimes adding pork fat), so I can barbeque juicy and flavorful burgers. However, I also eat burgers at fast food establishments, diners and café’s and trust that they are safe to consume, despite being dryer and a bit less flavorful due to its lean nature. I leave you to make your own decision, but I for one will continue to eat burgers that contain lean beef retail trim (also referred to as ‘pink slime’) and wear pink shirts and ties.

Here are some additional links for reference:

Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) Is A Safe and Wholesome Beef Product

BPI Ground Beef Gets Support From Food Safety Leaders

Engineering A Safer Burger

First Generation Producers: A Success Story

Photos and Story by Brittni Drennan
IBBA Communications Coordinator

If you have picked up the latest Jan/Feb issue of IBBA’s FRONTLINE Beef Producer, then you have seen the Jasik family featured on the cover of the publication. Just a few short years ago, this father and son partnership established “Jasik Hay Farms”, now a successful, family-owned commercial cattle operation. They breed their commercial cows to Brangus bulls and market Brangus Gold commercial replacement females. A first-generation farm, this young family has a refreshing perspective on the cattle industry.

Jasik Family The Jasik’s Story
There are a few producers in our demanding, competitive industry who inspire all of us to work harder, be more optimistic, and strive daily to achieve our goals while building integrity instead of just a product. These hardworking cattlemen were building fence with their fathers before they were old enough to go to school and driving tractors well before they had their license. They are those kind of producers whom you hold a high respect for. Meet the Jasik family.

Dustin grew up in the little quiet town of Pleasanton, Texas, where he learned all about the cattle business from his dad, Larry. Dustin worked alongside his dad and followed his every step. Everything Dustin knows about feeding cows, herd management, buying bulls and even fixing fence, he learned from his dad.

“My dad is my biggest influence. He raised me and he’s my best friend,” Dustin said. “We help and learn from each other. I guess that’s how we make it as partners.”

Larry and Dustin partnered to establish “Jasik Hay Farms”. They now run close to 500 Brangus cows for commercial production and have 1,300 acres for coastal hay production, but it was not a short road getting to that point. Dustin started his own business from scratch at age 14 when his dad helped him buy his first set of cows. Just three years later, he leased some land and bought 50 Brangus cows. Dustin, who solely through perseverance and hard work, built a successful business without having anything handed to him.

“If you’re starting from scratch, you have to start out small and grow from there,” Dustin said. “We started from nothing 18 years ago, and being a first generation farm sets us apart.”

Dustin’s biggest critic, he said, is his wife, Kate. The young couple met at a dance after Kate moved from Comfort to Pleasanton when she was 18. Kate was unfamiliar with the agriculture industry growing up, and had limited knowledge about the cattle business. Much like Dustin learned from his father, Kate learned from her husband and took new challenges head on.

“I didn’t know anything about cattle before I met Dustin,” Kate said. “He taught me everything I know. Now we just like to drive around and look at cattle on the farm together.”

Kate contributes significantly to the success of the business. While the guys are sorting cows, she examines the quality and helps with culling. With a smile on her face the size of Texas, Kate doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She drives the tractor and helps harvest hay in the summer.

Kate also does the marketing work for the family business designing and placing advertisements, managing the website and publicizing the farm on Facebook. She said there are numerous advantages to using social media, and she uses several venues to publicize the family’s achievements and create awareness and publicity for their business. Using platforms such as Facebook directs people to their website and increases visibility. After advertising their big win in San Antonio last year, Kate said she saw an increase in traffic to their Facebook page and website.

“Social media is a source of free advertising that increases publicity without the cost of print advertising,” Kate said.

Other than exploiting Facebook and the farm’s website to increase interaction with customers, Kate is working on starting a blog. She said because more and more people are joining the social media movement, it is advantageous for producers to utilize these new tools to more effectively communicate with a new audience.

“I think there are a lot of younger people wanting to stay in the ag business but don’t have the resources. Advocacy draws people to our industry,” Kate said, “and our industry must keep up with the times and explore new ways to communicate with young people.”

Between feeding cows and helping her husband, Kate does not miss a beat even with a little one on her hip. The couple had a boy, Barin, in May 2011 and are proud to raise him on a farm learning the cattle business just like Dustin did.

“We live here on the farm and working together allows us to spend more time together,” Dustin said. “We get a lot of joy being able to raise our son on the farm and look forward to teaching him a lot.”

The Jasik family has faced difficult challenges just like other producers have recently. Dustin attributes their continued success to being self sufficient with their hay production and the quality of their Brangus cattle.

“We drive on quality in our replacement females. That’s what we raise and what we market,” Dustin said. “We’re not necessarily trying to grow in numbers. We focus on quality and strive to keep satisfied customers, raising what they want and need, and that’s heifers that will breed easily, milk well and handle well.”

Dustin mentioned several reasons why he breeds his commercial cows to Brangus bulls. He said the primary reason he likes Brangus is the breed’s ability to perform in the harsh South Texas climate. Brangus cows breed back more easily, are more docile, handle better and have very little udder problems from what Dustin has experienced. Additionally, he said they always seem to top the market without fluctuating.

“There’s a market for Brangus bull calves or female calves. Brangus adapt well to different climates, they’re hardy, good quality and good breeders with good mothering-ability,” Dustin said.

Dustin said he responds to their customers’ needs and continually focuses on improving quality. To ensure this high quality, Dustin and Larry enroll their females in the Brangus Gold program, a service provided by the International Brangus Breeders Association (IBBA) that verifies Brangus genetics in commercial females.

“Having been using Brangus Gold for a year, [it] validates quality. The tags reassure our customers who are buying our replacement females that we’re breeding to registered Brangus bulls,” Dustin said.

The Jasiks take pride in the business they have built. They consider their biggest reward winning the San Antonio All-Breed Sale Overall Grand Champion in 2011. This was only the second time in the last 19 years that the Brangus breed received the title. They have also had several Breed Champion Brangus Bred Heifers and Pairs over the last eight years.

The Jasiks have an inspiring story to tell- one of tough challenges and many triumphs. Families like the Jasiks motivate us to work harder and live better.

“You can’t just give up the first dry spell you hit,” Dustin said. “You can’t give up because it will pay off in the end.”

Find out more about the Jasiks and their operation by visiting their website at www.jasikhayfarms.com.