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K-State Cattlemen's Day Helps Producers Look Forward
Kansas Ag Connection - 03/08/2018

Nearly 800 cattle producers and beef industry supporters from Kansas and surrounding states were on hand for the 105th annual Cattlemen's Day at Kansas State University on March 2.

K-State agricultural economist Glynn Tonsor and newly-confirmed U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud highlighted the event's general session, outlining many of the key factors that affect trade in agriculture and other industries around the world.

Doud, a native Kansan and K-State graduate whose appointment as chief agricultural negotiator was finalized just one day earlier, gave a talk based on years of experience in international trade, most recently as president of the Commodity Markets Council.

Tonsor is widely recognized for his work in tracking the economic outlook in the beef industry. During the session, he helped paint the picture of the importance of international trade as U.S. producers expand the beef herd.

"We got a good feel for the potential going forward for beef and all proteins, not only domestically, but in the export markets," said Matt Teagarden, the chief executive officer for the Kansas Livestock Association, who attended the session.

"I think as you look at some of those supply projections, not only for beef but also the other proteins, it drives home the importance of working with consumers not only in the states, but also around the world to make sure we've got a market for those coming supplies," Teagarden said.

Shannon Blocker, an agriculture and natural resources agent for K-State Research and Extension in Pottawatomie County, said it's easy to get locked in only on what's important on a local scale.

"A lot of times we have a very closed picture of marketing our commodity and what we're working with, but when we think about it in the bigger picture, it helps us all understand why certain things are the way they are, and that trade is an important factor for all of us," Blocker said.

Teagarden added: "(Cattle producers) like to produce. We do a good job of producing whether it's grains or livestock, and so it's important that we have a market to go with those products. I think it helps us make good decisions on our farms and ranches, and helps us better understand the opportunities and the importance of these markets and the factors that determine the supply and demand and overall prices for our products."

Scott Foote of Foote Cattle Company in Bucyrus, Kansas, brought his three sons so they could meet and interact with K-State professors, "and learn a little bit more about the cattle industry in Kansas."

"I just think that once in a while it's good to open your mind to maybe something you don't hear every day when you're at the feedlot working with cattle," Foote said. "It's important to listen to people in other parts of the industry. I enjoy learning about the beef trade (and) I enjoyed hearing some of the potential impacts that imports and exports have on our business."

Husband and wife Ryan and Tricia Vessar came from Holton, Kansas to interact with others in the cattle industry and learn about what's coming in the future. They were particularly interested in the concept of block chain technology -- a network of computers that jointly manages the database that manages Bitcoin transactions -- and how that concept may be applied to the cattle industry.

"Companies have so much data that they have on hand, and it's important to understand how to utilize it," Ryan Vessar said. "One of the ways is to utilize K-State to understand some of that information."

Added Tricia: "That way, we get a little more connected to a broader spectrum of consumer, to know the coming technologies and what our customer really needs and wants, and problems they're trying to solve so that we can better help and support them in solving problems."

Cattlemen's Day organizers said this year's trade show was the largest in the 105-year history of the event. A large number of equipment demonstrations were available this year.

In addition to the general session with Doud and Tonsor, K-State faculty gave several breakout sessions in the afternoon, all contributing to new information for cattlemen in the region.

For more information, including copies of research results and presentations of this year's Cattlemen's Day, visit www.KSUBeef.org.

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