Beef leaders institute provides industry insight

Farm Forum

For those who make a living on the farm or ranch, it may be easy to overlook the impactful role they play in the overall beef business. To fill that void, the American Angus Association each year hosts twenty young cattle producers on a four-day leadership experience – the Beef Leaders Institute (BLI).

The goal of the program is to provide Association members, between the ages of 25 and 45, the opportunity to network with their fellow peers in the breed, while learning more about the organization and the beef industry as a whole. This year, the event was held June 23-26, starting in Saint Joseph, Mo., and touring throughout the Midwest.

“BLI has given me the opportunity to learn more about the Association and to see other segments of the industry we don’t normally get to see,” says Dale Vitt, Fairview, Mont. “Seeing all this will allow me to tell my customers that the beef industry does put out a safe product, and I can be a better advocate.”

The annual event is hosted by the Association and funded through the Angus Foundation. Participants began their experience with an in-depth tour of the Association, where they met with staff to learn about the breed’s extensive offering of programs and services. Tom Brink, of Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding — the world’s largest cattle feeding entity, gave a presentation to the group offering an industry perspective about feeders and consumers.

The following two days involved visits that ranged from the feedlot to packer, and even the food distribution system. The group traveled to Gregory Feedlot, Tabor, Iowa; TansOva, a reproductive technology firm, Sioux Center, Iowa; Tyson, a beef processing plant, Dakota City, Neb.; Sysco, a food distributor, Lincoln, Neb.; GeneSeek, an agricultural biotechnology center, Lincoln, Neb.; and Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company, St. Joseph, Mo.

“I think the BLI program is a good opportunity for people to get back in touch with the science and technology information after they have been out of the industry for awhile,” says Neil Johnson, Pipestone, Minn.

The 2014 Beef Leadership Institute participants were: Kevin Arntzen, Hilger, Mont.; Brian Brockman, Brookfield, Mo.; Bryson Byergo, County Club, Mo.; Jim Collins, Juliette, Ga.; J. Oliver Irons, Lewisburg, W.Va.; Jeremy Johnson, Egeland, N.D.; Neil Johnson, Pipestone, Minn.; Mark Larranaga, Albuquerque, N.M.; Elaine Martin, Ashland, Kan.; Vasco Beheregary Neto, Sun Prairie, Wis.; Nathan Noah, Cambridge, Idaho; Keela Retallick, Morro Bay, Calif.; Lee Robbins, Ruston, La.; Miguel Salazar, Espanola, N.M.; Lindsay Sankey, Economy, Ind.; Randy Smoot, Campbellsville, Ky.; Kenny and Misty Stauffer, Harrisburg, Neb.; Dale Vitt, Fairview, Mont.; and John Wessel, Garber, Iowa.

For more information about the American Angus Association or the Beef Leaders Institute, visit or call 816-383-5100.