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10 Opportunities on the Horizon

Animal scientist shares 10 opportunities for beef industry in the next decade.

Per capita consumption of red meat and poultry has been down the last few years, but Gary Smith, visiting professor at Texas A&M University, assured this is a better indicator of supply than demand. He spoke to attendees of the 30th International Livestock Congress (ILC–USA) in Houston, Texas, March 4-5.

The animal scientist surveyed 12 beef industry experts from universities, beef organizations and ranchers and compiled the following top 10 opportunities for the beef industry in the next decade.

  1. 1. Emphasize “systems” approaches to supply chains and prescriptive production. Prescriptive production, he explained, is production for specific markets, like grass-fed, nonhormone-treated beef and even high-quality markets like the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand.
  2. 2. Seek natural improvement in production, disease prevention and palatability through genetic selection. In other words, try to fix issues through thoughtful management, and rely on technology or medicines second, he explained. Look at breed data and pedigrees to breed for high-quality animals that can survive in your management environment.
  3. 3. Assure beef is microbiologically and chemically safe.
  4. 4. Attract the brightest minds of the next generation to careers in the beef industry. This is a need of the agriculture industry as a whole, he added.
  5. 5, Increase the supply base and rebuild the cow herd. Increased reproduction rates are necessary with this, but he said rebuilding the cow herd with quality genetics is also important.
  6. 6. Counter challenges of consumer activists, specifically on sustainability, technology use and animal welfare.
  7. 7. Demand value-based marketing of all feeder cattle. Quality grids are dominating the markets, he said, but emphasized the need for a value-based market for all feeder calves.
  8. 8. Embrace international beef trade. The United States has a robust demand for its high-quality beef and offal and can import lean beef. Trade is necessary, though he admitted most trades issues are due to governmental issues.
  9. 9. Prepare for food-security issues, food defense, bioterrorism and introduction of foreign animal disease. In 2003, when the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was found in the United States, it caused 82 countries to ban U.S. beef. We need to be protective of U.S. animal health, he urged.
  10. 10. Solve problems of water scarcity, usage and impaired quality. Water will be the next big issue for American agriculture, he claimed.
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