By Lana Robinson
More than 120 participants crowded into the Karnes County Livestock Commission in Kenedy, April 15, for a cattle marketing workshop resulting from the cooperative efforts of county Farm Bureau leaders in District 12. The event evolved when invitations were sent out to surrounding county Farm Bureaus to participate in the first of a series of educational seminars sponsored by the Goliad County Farm Bureau and Goliad County Cooperative Extension Service.
"There was a planning meeting in Goliad prior to the marketing workshop at the Karnes County Livestock Commission in Kenedy," District 12 State Director Arthur Bluntzer explained. "Roger Wehman, Karnes County president, at this earlier meeting revealed they had already planned the marketing workshop and suggested it would fit our plans."
Bluntzer was present at this earlier meeting, along with Obert Sagebiel, DeWitt CFB president; Pat Calhoun, Goliad CFB president; Laurie Koehl, Victoria CFB director; Brian D. Yanta, Goliad County Extension Agent; Don Sugarek, Texas Farm Bureau fieldman, plus others from these counties. Together, the group synchronized their educational goals into a single, successful event.
"These meetings fit well with Brian Yanta's Extension Service-sponsored Goliad County Livestock Producers group, whose purpose is to learn how to produce better quality livestock to add value to their cattle when marketed," Bluntzer added, noting that future series workshops would feature Texas Cooperative Extension speakers Dr. Larry Falconer, economist-management, and Dr. Joe Paschal, livestock specialist.
Texas Farm Bureau sponsored the April 15 meal and TFB Marketing Education Director Bryce Myrick moderated the session. Karnes County Livestock Commission owners Ron Carter (Karnes CFB secretary-treasurer) and his wife, Sandra, provided the location. Following the actual sale, the Carters had two order buyers remain to explain some of their likes and dislikes when buying cattle.
"They brought back in 12 or 14 calves, five or six cows, and a bull that had sold," said Pat Calhoun. "The order buyers went through and explained why they paid the prices they paid for them, what went through their minds when they looked at them, what they look at, and look for, which was extremely helpful. Overall, it was very good information."
Karnes CFB's Roger Wehman agreed: "It was an open session. The two order buyers took questions before turning the cattle back out of the ring. The participants had a lot of questions. They were very inquisitive. One of the big concerns expressed was when you take eight or 10 calves to the auction and one might bring 10 cents a pound less than the others, why? The seminar provided that kind of information."
Bryce Myrick said, "I think many producers enjoyed it, and one reason they did, it let them see what the current market was on cull cows. A cull cow's value is different for different people. You have to ask yourself, how much flesh can we put on her at home? How much feed do I have available? Then you may want to consider if it makes more sense to take the same amount of feed and put it in a 500 or 600 lb. calf ,where you may get a higher return. For that 500 or 600 weight calf, the same amount of feed will bring you 90 cents to $1 a pound where if you put it in an older cow, that feed gain will be 40 cents a pound."
Myrick said he hoped producers went away with the clear understanding that they are not in the cattle business, but the beef business.
"Producers were told what animals buyers pay a premium for when buying to go to a feedlot, and the importance of producing an animal that feedlot wants," he said. "All feedlots desire a minimum of 50 percent English (Hereford, Angus, Shorthorn), and they want no more than 25 percent ear (Brahman) on them. They don't want more than 50 percent Continental (Simmental, Limousin, Charolais, etc.) That's the ones they want to pay a premium for. That ought to be our goal in the beef business, to have animals that fit our farming and ranching operation, yet bring a premium."
Myrick pointed out that with the current high prices in the fat cattle market, some producers participating in the seminar realized the wisdom of selling their older bulls.
"You can sell older bulls to packers at 65 to 70 cents a pound and then take the same dollarsyou may have to add a little bitand buy you some young replacement bulls. One lady came up to me after the seminar and said, `I'm going home to sell some of my old bulls tomorrow,'" he said.
Don Sugarek estimated that three-fourths of those in attendance were Farm Bureau members.
"By tying county Farm Bureaus together as a group, we've got a stronger force, better representation, and a lot more involvement. County leaders seem to gain more confidence when they see their peers also working toward a goal. We had lots of comments from folks anxious to do another one."
Myrick said Austin and Colorado counties were in the process of planning a similar workshop.
Roger Wehman indicated that Karnes County Farm Bureau would continue to collaborate with Goliad CFB on upcoming workshops. In addition to helping producers become more profitable by learning to "work smarter, not harder," Pat Calhoun envisions the county Farm Bureaus' quarterly seminars as a recruiting tool, to increase Farm Bureau membership and participation.
"What we can do through these classesfor those who don't really know what Farm Bureau is aboutis show that Farm Bureau is truly a lobbying organization, and that we are using our 'voice of agriculture' to help agriculture. Hopefully, they will realize what an advantage it is to become active in our organization," he said.
Some upcoming workshop topics, Farm Bureau and Texas Cooperative Extension will present alternately, or in combination, include: July 2004Preconditioning and Retained Ownership; October 2004Marketing and Hedging; January 2005Estate Planning; April 2005Sustainable Leases (agriculture and hunting); and July 2005Economics of Production.