Accelerate potential in the beef industry with the beefSD Program

Farm Forum

This article was written in collaboration with Adele Harty, Robin Salverson, and Ken Olson.

SDSU Extension is excited to announce that a second class of the beefSD program will begin soon; beefSD is an educational program for beginning beef producers designed to give participants an opportunity to expand their knowledge of the cattle industry as a whole, evaluate various production systems, and develop goals and management plans for their beef business. The original beefSD class was a three-year program initiated in 2011, with participants from 30 operations across the state. Class I will be complete in August, and a new group of participants will begin Class II of beefSD, which will be held over the next two years.

The following are several quotes from current beefSD Class I participants indicating their view of the value of the program:

· “The most important thing I have gained from beefSD is learning to be open minded, listen to other people’s points of view and realize there is a whole big world out there outside of South Dakota. I really have come to believe that beefSD or a similar program should be encouraged to all producers to help them see the big picture.”

· “I believe that being part of this program has opened my eyes to all kinds of possibilities, opportunities, and solutions for my future in the beef cattle industry.”

· “Being able to connect with someone who has more experience in this industry, ask them questions, and learn from their experiences is invaluable. There are many ways to be profitable in this industry if you are willing to take a few risks and try something new.”

Program Overview

beefSD is designed to give participants a highly interactive and hands-on learning experience that will help them be successful. Workshops will provide in-depth knowledge of the beef industry in South Dakota. Tours of case-study ranches will be held to help participants understand alternative production and management practices associated with backgrounding, retained ownership, grass-fed, and seedstock production. Beyond the four case-study tours, multiple production and risk management topics will be discussed. Class II participants will be given the opportunity to enroll some of their own cattle in a post-weaning calf performance evaluation. This will be offered to provide participants with feedlot performance and carcass data on their cattle to use in making management and marketing decisions. A key component of Class II is the development of mentoring relationships with successful ranchers and industry professionals. These mentors will be resources in forming individual

management teams that will assist participants in identifying goals and opportunities for their operation and making progress on their goals. Participants will interact throughout the program with various types of web-based technology, including a social networking site, webinars, and podcasts.

Study Trips

Participants in beefSD will also get the opportunity to expand their view of the beef industry with two out-of-state travel study trips. The first trip is scheduled for the summer of 2014, and will take producers to Chicago. Tour stops will include an Upper Midwest cattle feeding operation, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and an in-depth look at various marketing opportunities, including urban grocery stores, meat wholesalers, farmer’s markets, an upscale restaurant, and export markets.

The second trip will be held in the summer of 2015 and will include stops in Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas, with a focus on post-weaning production. Tour stops will include large commercial feedlots, a processing plant, an elite seedstock producer, a replacement heifer development enterprise, a visit to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Culinary Kitchen, and meetings with various cattle industry representatives (to include CattleFax, U.S. Premium Beef, and low-stress livestock handling and facility design expert Temple Grandin).

Applying for beefSD

Class space will be limited to representatives from up to 20 beef enterprises (individuals, couples or two siblings are welcome to apply to represent one operation). All beef producers are encouraged to apply; however, applications from beginning ranchers with less than 10 years of experience will be given preference.

Don’t miss this opportunity to further develop management skills, network with other producers, travel, and increase knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the beef industry.

Application forms will be available the first week of May on the South Dakota Farm Bureau website.