ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Nearly 20 American Angus Association members recently traveled five days across the country for an in-depth industry tour through the Beef Leaders Institute (BLI) hosted by the American Angus Association. BLI is a complete pasture-to-plate experience for young leaders in the Angus industry that explores quality genetics, performance programs, genomic technology, herd health, Certified Angus Beef® (CAB) and much more.
The Angus Foundation-sponsored event was hosted June 19-23 and started at the Angus Association’s headquarters in Saint Joseph, Mo.
“BLI is designed to provide Angus producers the opportunity to see all sectors of the beef industry after cattle leave their farms,” said Caitlyn Brandt, event coordinator for the American Angus Association. “By having the chance to network with other producers, feeders, packers, processors, retailers and other industry experts in the areas of genetics, reproduction and marketing, participants go home with knowledge and information that provides better insight into making production decisions on their operations.”
The mission behind BLI is to provide young producers between the ages of 25 and 45 the opportunity to network with their peers in the Angus breed while learning more about the Association and sectors of the beef business after cattle leave the ranch. Participants were selected through an application process and represent bright leaders within the Angus breed.
“Beef Leaders Institute has offered me the opportunity to gain knowledge about what I can bring back to my region and what the consumer needs and how we need to be breeding cattle,” said Drew Feller, regional manager for the Angus Association. “Our small decisions at a cow-calf or feedlot operation are going all the way through the product chain. It’s really made me realize the consumer is paying attention and the consumer wants a specific end product. It’s our responsibility as beef producers to make that for them.”
This year marked the 10th annual BLI. The group toured beef sector operations throughout the Midwest and ended in Wooster, Ohio, at the CAB headquarters. Throughout the week, participants visited GeneSeek Neogen Operations in Lincoln, Neb.; Feller & Co. Cattle Feeder in Wisner, Neb.; Trans Ova in Sioux City, Iowa; the Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. processing facility in Omaha, Neb.; Sysco in Cleveland, Ohio; and a retail store at Giant Eagle’s Market District Supermarket in Cleveland, Ohio.
Participants were able to experience all sectors of the beef business, interact with production experts and develop a larger vision to not just improve their operations back home, but the entire industry.
“BLI truly allowed us, as participants, to have a pasture-to-plate experience,” said Jocelyn Washam from Wentworth, Mo. “Not only were we able to network and make lifelong friends, we were able to make ourselves better advocates of the Angus breed so we can educate the consumer about Angus cattle and the livestock industry in the ever-changing and growing world we live in.”
The opportunity to get off the farm and learn about what goes on past each individual farm or ranch instills a new way of thinking for many of the producers who attend.
“I think going through off-the-farm experiences puts perspective into a young producer’s mind, or anybody who’s out in the field,” said Jeremy Leister from Stillwater, Okla. “We’ve got to think of everybody else who has to handle beef or works in the packing plant. We’ve got to make it easier as an industry and help each other out and work as a team. BLI makes you think about everything that goes on.”
A complete list of 2017 BLI participants follows. For more information on how to participate in the leadership event, visit www.angus.org. Applications for the 2018 class will be available online starting next winter.
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