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November 20, 2009

New Executive Director
Takes Reins of BIF

Joe Cassady will assist Beef Improvement Federation Board in efforts to improve the efficiency of beef production.

Alex Avery

Joe Cassady

Joe Cassady of Raleigh, N.C., took the reins as executive director of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) during the organization's midyear board meeting in Saint Joseph, Mo., Nov. 9.

An associate professor in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Cassady has research interests in quantitative and molecular genetic applications to improve food animal production, including feed efficiency in beef cattle. Part of his research is supported by the American Angus Association.

In his role as BIF executive director, Cassady will coordinate the activities of the board and ensure that its directives are properly executed. He will be responsible for documenting the activities and finances of the federation and fostering its long-term vision by keeping abreast of the industry, monitoring new technologies and assisting the board in incorporating those technologies into its overall mission.

The 2010 BIF Annual Meeting and Research Symposium will be in Columbia, Mo., June 28-July 1.
"The beef cattle industry will continue to face many challenges, such as more restrictive environmental regulations, increased public interest regarding animal well-being and increasing input costs," Cassady says. "BIF's roll is to provide guidance and education with specific regard to genetic improvement of beef cattle. BIF must assist seedstock associations and producers in their efforts to meet the challenge of increased input costs by improving response to selection for economically important traits."

Selected for the position this summer, Cassady has been working in tandem with his predecessor, Twig Marston, during a transition period. Marston, who is northeast research and Extension district director for the University of Nebraska, had stated his desire to resign as BIF executive director in spring 2009, after six years of volunteer service.

"BIF's mission has always been to provide a set of standards for the performance aspects of beef cattle production," says Susan Willmon, director of breed improvement for the American Gelbvieh Association. "Twig's insight into the industry from an Extension perspective, as well as his contacts within the industry, have kept the BIF board of directors focused on that mission."

BIF was formed in 1968 to standardize performance evaluation programs and methodologies and to create greater awareness, acceptance and usage of beef cattle performance concepts. A DVD documenting the history of BIF is available for ordering at

Marston's greatest asset in the position was his ability to guide without micromanaging, Willmon says, noting the position's challenge of working with a different group every year to plan BIF's annual meeting and research symposium. "The ongoing success of these meetings in part goes to Twig and his former assistant Lois Schreiner," she notes.

"Key to this position, a person needs to be able to manage competing egos and political cross-currents with quiet efficiency, respect and seemingly no independent agenda," says Brian McCulloh, BIF president and manager of Woodhill Farms, Viroqua, Wis. "We think Twig has demonstrated that ability and that Joe will be able to."

Both men, he adds, see the big picture of the beef industry and have a passion for the seedstock industry.

"We live in a scientific age of accelerated technology development," McCulloh says. "Somebody needs to help those in the production sector understand the new technologies so that we apply them appropriately. BIF is supposed to be that independent infrastructure that standardizes the development of genetic predictions and then helps producers apply those appropriately."

"I am thankful for this opportunity to serve the beef cattle industry," Cassady says, "and I look forward to working with the BIF board of directors in their efforts to improve the efficiency of beef production."

BIF currently represents 57 member organizations, including state beef cattle improvement associations, breed associations, bull studs and sustaining members.

For more information about BIF, visit or contact Joe Cassady, Executive Director, Department of Animal Science, NCSU, Box 7621, Raleigh, NC 27695-7621; 919-513-0262 (phone), 919-515-6884 (fax).


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