I learned a lot while at the NCBA, met a lot of great people, and heard about a lot of issues. While the vast majority of these names, issues, tidbits and useful items are still floating around in my mind, a few have surfaced, by choice or force.
So, here are a few quick items of note from my week in Denver.
CattleFax provided an update during one general session. What I got out of it was:
550 lb steer calves are expected to be around $1.25/lb this fall, with the high end expected to bring as much as $1.75/lb. That's not a typo....
They project it to be a non-break even year in the feeding sector, due largely to corn prices.
Cow-calf guys are expected to do the best this year (please see first point)
There is concern over the shrinking supply of cattle (duh) and the potential loss of world market share.
Then I ran into a rancher from South Dakota I know, and we were visiting about all this. When I mentioned the loss of world market share, he asked, "loss to who?" Then pointed out the products exported from the U.S. are typically desired for their quality, which is unmatched in the world. Just something to think about.
Karl Rove also spoke at a general session and was very interesting.
Main points: Obama's dumb (yeah....)
He isn't getting smarter...
Maybe not a lot of new information, but he presented it well, and highlighted some major issues, like the impact of Obamacare, the deficit and made a couple interesting points on export markets. Despite my smart alec comments, he was fun to listen to, and he does know all the current facts and figures, which was scary to hear.
I attended the Cattlemen's College, and learned a lot about implementing an AI program into your operation. I also heard a number of fast food, high-end restaurant, wholesale, and retail beef suppliers speak on consumer trends and preferences.
The major topics of interest at the convention included the consumer, and maintaining or increasing beef demand both domestically and internationally.
Hearing these people in the retail segment speak was eye-opening. They know the consumer, and they know their beef. They are concerned over the ever-increasing size of carcasses, but realize the economics driving that size increase.
The Checkoff, and other players, are continuously working on implementing new beef products. One of these is a Ribeye Filet, which reduces the size of the steak for consumers through fileting it, and is also cheaper than a whole ribeye. However, it does sell for more per pound than an entire steak would, and allows diversification of a particular cut of meat.
Technology was another big player in conversations. Use of technology is expected to be the number one contributor to the "producing more with less" mentality the beef industry is embracing in its effort to continue to feed the growing world population
I think I heard there is expected to be 27 million more people in the U.S. by 2050. I can't remember the worldwide figure, but its growing exponentially too.
Use of such social media outlets as facebook, twitter and blogs is another key thing in telling the true story of agriculture, and is gaining lots of momentum. There were twitter gatherings during the trade show, and media members were constantly updating facebook accounts and blogs during the convention.
One general session was even put online as it was going on. While it was very interesting to be able to read the session as you watched it, with almost immediate access to the information that was being presented, there was some discrepancy as the typed version was not exactly what the speaker said in all instances.