Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Crash Course in the VFD

You’ve been hearing about the VFD for months (or years!) by now. But the time has finally come for the new rules to go into effect.

In case you need a refresher, below is a series of articles written by Dr. Grant Dewell, ISU Extension, for the Iowa Cattleman magazine.

An introduction to the Veterinary Feed Directive

How will the VFD affect beef production?
  1. Medically important antibiotics in feed can no longer be used as growth promotants
  2. Veterinary oversight is required for medically important antibiotics in feed
The Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship

Information needed for a Veterinary Feed Directive

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

4 Must-Read Resources for Grazing Cornstalks

Now that harvest is almost complete, many Iowa cattle producers will be making use of the corn residue as a feed source for their cows. We've put together 4 "must-read" articles/resources to help you make the most of cornstalks.

1. 5 questions to ask before grazing cornstalk residue

  1. What's left in the field?
  2. How long will it last?
  3. When should I supplement?
  4. How can I extend grazing time?
  5. Should I be worried about nitrate toxicity?
Find the answer to these questions and more here.

2. 4 key points in rental agreements for grazing cornstalks
Maybe you want to take advantage of a neighboring cornfield? Here are a few tips for your rental agreement.

3. Grazing Corn Residue: using resources and reducing cost
This guide from the Iowa Beef Center is full of detailed, useful information for veteran and beginning cornstalk graziers.

4. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Corn Stalk Grazing Calculator
Use this resources to estimate acres needed, animals per acre, grazing days, cost per animal daily and more.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Cattlemen and the Candidates - Where do they stand?

This past month, ICA reached out to Iowa’s candidates running for federal congressional and senate seats with several questions related to important issues that matter to Iowa’s cattle producers.

With issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), cattle market volatility and environmental regulations at the center of conversation around beef production today, we hope these candidates’ stances on these issues help you make a clear choice for whom to cast your vote come November 8th.

Below are the candidates we contacted. The bolded names are the candidates we received responses from. Below the graphics are the full responses.

IA1: Rod Blum vs. Monica Vernon

IA2: Dave Loebsack vs. Chris Peters

IA3: David Young vs. Jim Mowrer

IA4: Steve King vs. Kim Weaver

IA Senate: Chuck Grassley vs. Patty Judge 

1. What would the passing of TPP mean for Iowa’s beef producers, and what do you hope to see happen moving forward? 

Chuck Grassley: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement between the United States and eleven other countries in the Pacific region.  The agreement is designed to lower tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for products in all eleven counties.  For Iowa, that means more market access for our agricultural products in countries like Japan.  Iowa produces more food than we can consume, that is why we must ensure we have access to consumers around the world. As I’m compiling these answers, President Obama has yet to officially submit the TPP agreement to Congress for consideration.   I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure the market access gains made in the TPP for agriculture are enacted to benefit U.S. farmers.

Patty Judge: Passing a trade agreement that lowers unfair trade barriers for Iowa agriculture, including beef, is important to expand markets for Iowa farmers. In the U.S. Senate I will support trade agreements that accomplish this goal, while also holding other countries to high labor and environmental standards. I believe we must bring everyone to the negotiating table and restructure a trade agreement that meets these requirements. I strongly believe that Congress must also take a more active role during trade negotiations to guarantee their constituents benefit from any agreement.

Steve King: If TPP were to pass, it would open up many new markets and hundreds of thousands new dollars a day, every day, for Iowa’s beef producers.   I’m hopeful that we can get TPP on floor for debate and a vote.  I will be monitoring TPP to make sure that it comports with Trade Promotion Authority language, and I’m hopeful that we will see that vote and get a signature on it, and see TPP pass into law.

Dave Loebsack: I have been reviewing the TPP deal. I want to make sure that Iowa farmers and businesses are able to fairly export their products. We must be sure intellectual property rights, environmental standards and labor laws are not vague, but are fair, clear, and enforceable. I do not support TPP in its current form.

David Young: As a state and a nation, we need new and open markets for exporting our agricultural products. We must ensure these trade agreements are free and fair and enforceable. I supported and voted for Trade Promotion Authority to allow our current and next Presidents the ability to negotiate trade agreements. We need our American products and values in the Pacific region.  This is a market we must be able to penetrate for economic and national security reasons. As I continue to review the TPP agreement, I am more favorable to it as long as we are assured we can maintain its enforcement should other countries try not adhering to it or attempt to try and change the practices in the underlying agreement.

Rod Blum: It’s my hope that the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership will help to reduce anti­market tariffs on Iowa beef and level the international playing field to give Iowa cattle producers more access to extremely important international markets. Specifically, Iowa producers will be granted significantly better access to the critical market in Japan, with the current tariffs of 38.5 percent being reduced to 9 percent in 16 years.

2. What are you doing to ensure further environmental regulations do not hinder agricultural growth? 

Chuck Grassley: I have opposed the current Administration’s regulatory assault on agriculture and rural America at every turn.  I have supported efforts to block the Waters of the United States rule known as WOTUS and oppose the EPA’s risk assessment that may hinder the effectiveness of Atrazine. Farmers produce more food today than ever before while using fewer resources.  They should be commended for their success, not put out of business by onerous regulations.

Patty Judge: All environmental regulations should be crafted and enforced in conjunction with agricultural producers. While we need to ensure that our natural resources are available for people today and in the future, regulations should not unnecessarily burden agricultural growth. I believe we can both protect the environment and have a prosperous agriculture industry.

Steve King: In all my career I have worked to defund the overregulation of all industry especially the agriculture industry. I’ve been a vigorous opponent of the WOTUS regulations. I have chaired the task force to reduce the amount of regulations and to restore legislative authority back to Congress. I am the author of the Sunset Act which actually sunsets over  a period of 10 years all Federal regulations and requires that each regulation come back to the floor of Congress to receive an affirmative vote and the president’s signature before the agencies can have any rule that has the force and effect of law. So I remain in opposition to this overregulation that we have and a defender of property rights and I’ll continue to do so aggressively.

Dave Loebsack: We must protect public health and ensure the water we drink and air we breathe are safe. With that said, I understand many of your concerns. I believe that rules and regulations put forth need to be commonsense and practical. I want to keep hearing from all of you about specific issues you’re having with certain rules and regulations, and I’m more than happy to look into them.

David Young: Through my role on the House Appropriations Committee, I have pushed to withhold funding for burdensome regulations which harm U.S. agriculture, including the Waters of the U.S. rule. Unfortunately, under this administration, the EPA has released too many regulations which hurt agriculture from WOTUS to pesticide permitting to attempts to regulate dust on farms and methane emissions from animals, and the list goes on. Due to concerns of an over-reaching EPA, the House Appropriations Committee, on which I serve, has also cut funding for the EPA staffing budgets.

I have also voted for bills to reign in overzealous federal agencies. I further authored an amendment, which requires unelected federal bureaucrats who write regulations to be identified in an effort to push for more transparency in the regulatory process.

Rod Blum: The EPA is out of control with burdensome regulations.  Since my first day in office I’ve worked hard to stop their harmful regulations like the Waters of the US rule that will hurt Iowa producers and impair Iowa’s ability to improve water quality and conservation practices. In 2015, I led a letter asking for inclusion of a prohibition of funding for the WOTUS rule in the FY 2016 appropriations process.  I also cosponsored and voted for the bipartisan H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act, which would roll back the WOTUS rule. Overall, I will continue to work hard to rein in federal regulatory overreach so Iowa producers can continue to provide for their families.

3. How do you see the renewable fuel standard program evolving in the near future? 

Chuck Grassley: Iowa is the leader in the production of homegrown, renewable biofuels. I would expect in the near future, the Environmental Protection Agency will establish blending levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard that will reach the congressional intent of 15 billion gallons annually from conventional corn ethanol.  Then, the focus for further development will be on next generation cellulosic and other advanced biofuels, and biodiesel.    Iowa’s leadership in this area has had the positive side effect of producing affordable co-products such as distiller’s grains, which has partially been responsible for the growth in cattle feeding in Iowa.

Patty Judge: The renewable fuel standard is an important part of a comprehensive plan to reduce U.S. carbon emissions. It also creates an additional important market for Iowa corn and provides good paying jobs. Moving forward, Congress needs to continue aggressively pursuing higher percentage levels of biofuels in gasoline, ensure that the EPA enforces the blending requirements established in law, and that any changes are announced with enough notice for farmers to plan accordingly. We must also make sure to invest in the necessary infrastructure for the renewable fuel standard to succeed. In 2022, the annual renewable fuel standard increase is scheduled to sunset; protecting the renewable fuel standard and making sure Congress aggressively pursues biofuels will require a senator who can reach across the aisle and get the Senate working again, not someone infamous for helping cause the gridlock and obstruction.

Steve King: I don’t know if it is actually going to be evolving now or any time in the future. But I can say that the RFS is under attack from the petroleum industry. They would like to repeal it. They would like to do anything they can to reduce or eliminate their competition for fuel from ethanol. So we have to face the petroleum lobby. I am hopeful we can hold the RFS together. By 2022 the EPA will be in control of it if nothing else changes. That means that the Administration and the appointments to the EPA will make an important difference to the RFS. We need much a stronger effort on the part of the supporters of the RFS if we are going to hold the RFS together.

Dave Loebsack: The biofuels and agriculture industries play a critical role in Iowa’s economy. Iowa’s biofuels industry continues to create good paying jobs, especially in our rural communities, and is helping drive our economy. I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) because I’ve seen first-hand what is does for Iowa’s economy and the jobs it creates. I will continue to fight to ensure that the final blending volumes are strong for Iowa. We continue to hear from the oil       companies how bad the RFS is, but I think it’s more a worry that they are losing some of their record-breaking profits. The oil companies continue to receive billions in tax breaks every year, and I think the RFS is a simple, practical way to level the playing field, create jobs in Iowa, and push us toward energy independence. I’m going to keep fighting for creating jobs for, Iowa’s economy, and that means supporting the RFS.

David Young: I support the Renewable Fuel Standard. Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Congress set renewable volume obligations through 2022. I have consistently supported maintaining those levels as stipulated by law to bolster Iowa’s rural economy, enhance domestic energy capacity, and ensure consumer choice at the gas pump. Furthermore, I support the biofuels industry’s work to capture coproducts from Distiller's Dried Grains to corn oil, ensuring these important products can be used and not wasted.

Rod Blum: We need to hold the EPA accountable to actually follow the RFS as passed by Congress, and we should also continue to push for more market access for Iowa ethanol. I introduced the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act to force the EPA to grant the waiver allowing E15 ethanol to be sold year round and will continue working to see that passed.

4. When looking forward toward soon to come discussions in relationship to the 2018 Farm Bill, what changes would you advocate for in relationship to Iowa’s agricultural industry & food/farm policy? 

Chuck Grassley: For the 2018 Farm Bill, I intend to continue advocating for a strong crop insurance program that is the linchpin of the farm safety net.   I will also work to ensure that the Livestock Forage Program and Livestock Indemnity Program are extended to ensure livestock producers have reliable protection if a catastrophe occurs.  The agriculture industry is in a downturn at the moment, I have heard from farmers in every sector about tight margins. This downturn is hitting young and beginning farmers the hardest because they lack the equity and financial resources of larger operations.  Therefore, I will also be looking for ways to ensure young and beginning farmers have the resources they need to be successful.  With the average age of the U.S. farmer approaching 60, we must make sure there is another generation of family farmers ready to produce food in this country.

Patty Judge: In the U.S. Senate, I would request to be on the Agriculture Committee and help write the next Farm Bill. I strongly believe that the Farm Bill must contain a strong safety net to protect family farmers in Iowa. I also believe that the Farm Bill should include a strong conservation title that provides the resources to adequately fund conservation programs. As a cow/calf farmer for many years and Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture for two terms, I know how important it is to support family farmers and write a strong Farm Bill that addresses the needs of Iowans.

Steve King: I’d like to see the CRP Program better applied to highly erodible acres, and that the taxpayers’ dollars are better distributed more evenly across the counties and, secondly, make sure that we have a good risk management program, of which crop insurance is the heart and soul of risk management.  Then, a thirdly, if not passed before, what is known as the King Amendment, or the PICA Amendment, to protect interstate commerce, which clarified and prohibits states from regulating the means of production of our agricultural products.  It is a commerce clause right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce and so I’d like to see my amendment become law before then but, if not, then in the next Farm Bill.  On the nutrition side, I’d like to see us reduce the amount that’s spent on the SNAP Program.  I’ve seen the food stamp numbers go from 19 million up to 46—actually 47—million, and roll back to 46.  There’s been a strong push on the part of this Administration to recruit more people to sign up for the nutrition program.  I would say let’s reduce that and get a better dollar for the taxpayer on the nutrition side.

Dave Loebsack: I want to make sure we get a Farm bill passed on time and not have Congress drag their feet like in years past. We can’t allow for the uncertainty of merely another extension to continue weighing down our rural communities. Additionally, I want to make sure we maintain strong crop insurance provisions, maintain conservation opportunities, reauthorize the foreign market access program, and continue grants and loans for our rural communities.

David Young: Any changes I will advocate for come from my conversations with Iowa farmers and livestock producers. For example, based on my conversations with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, I would like to see changes to the Conservation Reserve Program. As currently written, the program is very restrictive and does not provide flexibility for certain activities, such as grazing (especially during drought conditions). Furthermore, there are some concerns about the requirement to enroll entire fields versus certain strategic plots of land. I encourage you to share with me various changes needed to make farm programs more efficient and effective.

Rod Blum: I would like to see that the sensible livestock disaster assistance programs that are designed to assist producers who experience hardship due to circumstances beyond their control are protected in a new farm bill. We also need to make sure we deliver that aid with minimal bureaucratic red tape. Further, I would also like to see the next farm bill ensure that cattle producers are guaranteed access to sufficient grazing lands in light of increasing competition for access to land from government programs.

5. Robust markets are imperative to the independent Iowa cattleman and woman and their livelihood.  In recent years market price discovery has decreased while volatility has increased to historic levels.  How would you ensure small, independent businesses like Iowa’s cattle operations continue to be afforded the opportunity to protect their business risk in today’s market system by functionally maintaining or enhancing regulatory oversight via tools like Mandatory Price Reporting and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange? 

Chuck Grassley: I have opposed consolidation in the meat industry that gives packers outsized market power for decades.  Earlier this year, I reintroduced legislation that would ban packers from owning livestock which is a technique I believe they use to influence prices.  Additionally, in April, I asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the cattle industry specifying that they should identify what could be driving the recent volatility in futures markets.  Once the report is finished, I will review its findings and work with my colleagues to ensure everything is being done to guarantee the integrity and functionality of the cattle market.

Patty Judge: Congress must make sure that independent Iowa cattlemen and women have access to similar market information and opportunities as larger producers. Prices should be publicly reported as quickly as possible, and all market participants should have equal access to that information. Congress should continue to ensure that USDA’s Mandatory Price Reporting regulations meet those standards. Congress should also strengthen regulations that prevent large producers from unfairly manipulating prices and placing independent cattlemen and women at a competitive disadvantage.

Steve King: We need more transparency. Mandatory price reporting needs to be in real time and completely transparent. We need to also have transparency within the futures trading contracts as well. That means we need to be able to watch the algorithmic electronic high volume traders. Also, in real time we need a report from CME that tells us what kind of volume that is. We need more cash sales especially those that take place out of the large feed lots in places like Texas and Oklahoma, we are not getting a representative cash market down there, therefore the mandatory price reporting isn’t effective.

Dave Loebsack: Americans have long relied on Iowa to feed the nation and our state has long relied on our hard working family farmers to drive our economy. I believe that we must promote stability for these farmers and fight to improve the quality of life in rural Iowa. We need to better address the needs of Iowa’s family farms and rural economy through adjustments to commodity programs, increased rural development investment, and expanded conservation efforts.

David Young: In 2015, I, along with my colleagues in the House and Senate, voted to extend authorization for and to strengthen the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) mandatory price reporting requirements. This law requires meat packers to report both the prices they pay for cattle, swine, and lambs and the prices they receive for the sale of beef, pork, and lamb to the USDA. From there, the USDA must disseminate this information in a daily, weekly, and monthly report to enhance transparency of the marketplace for livestock producers. In addition, the USDA must work with livestock producers, packers, and other stakeholders to carry out a study looking further into mandatory price reporting to identify other problems that need to be addressed and opportunities to fix those problems.

On September 13, 2016, I agreed to cosponsor the Technical and Clarifying Amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 2016. This bill would apply the Packers and Stockyards Act requirements to internet actions and other digital sales, and authorize electronic fund transfers. These corrections ensure producers receive the same financial protections whether they sell online or at the market facilities while also allowing the use of modern electronic payments, if desired. I remain committed to ensuring market transparency for our Iowa cattlemen and women.

While I will continue to work with ICA on these and other issues, I also encourage you to reach out to me directly to share your concerns and observances on how programs are working. This information is key to detecting and fixing problems.

I remain committed to protecting U.S. beef production. For this reason, in August 2016 following an announcement the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had found the Brazilian food safety system equivalent to the U.S. food safety system, I sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack asking for more information about the steps the USDA is taking to ensure the safety of all Brazilian beef imports. I look forward to hearing from the USDA and continuing oversight over this process to keep our U.S. cattle herds and beef production safe from foot and mouth disease.

Rob Blum: I have heard first hand from many independent Iowa cattle producers about the need to increase pricing transparency to ensure that the playing field is level.  In Congress I will continue to work to protect the MPR system, and I am also supportive of experimenting with ideas like online auction that could provide other methods of price discovery for producers moving forward.

Friday, July 1, 2016

What does agriculture have to do with Pat Summitt?

This week we said goodbye to basketball legend, Pat Summitt. Touted as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, her battle with early onset Dementia, Alzheimer's type, ended Tuesday, June 28th with loved ones close. She was known for her fierce presence on the floor, as she coached more than a hundred girls to 1,098 wins and 8 NCAA titles during her 38 years of coaching the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.

Although she is revered as one of the winningest coaches in all of basketball, her story is bigger than that. Pat Summitt was known for instilling great virtues in all her players. To her, life was about winning on and off the court.

Many people don’t know that the values and integrity she exhibited on the court were first developed on the farm. Pat grew up on a tobacco and dairy farm in Clarksville, Tennessee where she was one of five children. She developed her driven nature working alongside her siblings and her father, doing chores on the family farm.

“I can fix a tractor, mow hay, plow a field, chop tobacco, fire a barn and call the cows” she once said. “But what I’m really known for is winning.”
                                                                                            -Pat Summitt
She took the lessons she learned on the farm to the court, teaching her players to not only be great basketball players, but leaders in society, too. Her student athletes had a 100% graduation rate and 45 former players went on to be coaches themselves. She was known for demanding excellence on the floor but cultivated one of a kind friendships with her players beyond basketball. She took a selfless approach to coaching, often saying it wasn’t about her but rather what she could do to help grow her student athletes.

It’s evident that Summitt earned the respect of those around her by her outstanding character.  Summitt’s upbringing on the farm is where it all began and led to the instillation of upstanding morals and unbreakable character in her players. As agriculturists raising families, we have the opportunity to raise great kids in our own fields. Similarly to how she graduated a new crop of young women into the world each year, the next generation of farmers is the best crop you will ever raise. 

By Casey Allison - Iowa Cattlemen's Association Eastern Iowa Membership Coordinator

Friday, June 24, 2016

BeefMeets Drive Home the Mission

We're back in the office today after two big meetings this week.

Northeast Iowa BeefMeet

Most of the ICA staff spent Wednesday in Spencer and Thursday in Independence with members of the cattle industry at the first annual ICA BeefMeets. Between the educational sessions, tradeshow and policy development, the meetings were true to the event theme, helping the cattle industry "drive to success."

Northwest Iowa BeefMeet

We have yet to go through the event surveys to find out what attendees thought, but as a staff, we talked about the events on our way home last night. And we agreed - we really, really enjoyed seeing everyone!

Tristen and Shanda are friendly voices
on the phones at ICA. At BeefMeets you
can see their friendly faces, too!

We work in the office most days, and often talk to you, our members, on the phone or over email. But events like BeefMeets give us a chance to see you face to face, and we love that. Seeing all of you and getting your feedback reminds us why we do what we do - we work everyday to support your passion and we are proud to do that. Seeing you at our events drives home the connection between the advocacy, education and leadership projects we work on every day in Ames and the work you do on your farms or businesses.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Northwest and Northeast Iowa BeefMeets, and especially to the trade show vendors, sponsors and ICA leaders who helped make the events a success. We are taking a short pause before loading up for the Beef Masters Open West in Denison on Monday, June 27, the Southwest Iowa BeefMeet in Atlantic on Tuesday, June 28, the Southeast Iowa BeefMeet in Riverside on Wednesday, June 20 and the PAC Shoot-Out in Riverside on Thursday, June 30.

Can't wait to see you all again soon and as always, if there are concerns or topics you want your association to be working on, don't hesitate to reach out to us!

Here are more photos from Northwest and Northeast Iowa BeefMeets:


Thursday, June 16, 2016

2016 Membership Winners!

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association is dedicated to growing Iowa's beef business through leadership, advocacy and education. As a grassroots organization, membership is vital to the strength and effectiveness of ICA's efforts. Our thanks and congratulations to these outstanding membership recruiters!

ICA Top Hand Club

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Top Hand Club is a way to reward the association’s top membership recruiters. Each member recruited is worth 1 point, and every $75 in Fair Share is worth 1 point.

1) The following recruiters earned at least 5 points and received an ICA Top Hand Club hat.

· Grant Carlson, Hamilton County
· Kellie Carolan, Marshall County
· Ron Cota, Allamakee County
· Jack Giltner, Mills-Montgomery County
· Zoe Moritz, Jefferson County
· Jim Mosher, Marshall County
· Bob Otto, Monona County
· Tim Pansegrau, Marshall County
· Virgil Pries, Bremer County
· Steve Rehder, Sioux County
· Justin Reiter, Jones County
· Jordan Steffener, Des Moines County
· Gary Whittle, Allamakee County
· Ray Wilson, Calhoun County

2) The following recruiters earned at least 15 points and received the hat, a Top Hand Oxford Shirt and a gas card.

· Jay Klemme, Marshall County
· Jeffrey Landrum, Decatur County
· Bruce Long, Webster County
· Dan Schmitt, Allamakee County
· Shane Smith, Fremont County
· Sparky Wellman, Lee County

3) The following recruiters earned at least 25 points and received the hat, the shirt, the gas card, 100 ML of Dectomax or a bag of Cidrs from Zoetis Animal Health and a Top Hand Soft Shell jacket.

· Luke Baker, Union County
· Merv Hoermann, O’Brien County
· LeRoy McClintock, Winneshiek County
· Chad Tobey, Clinton County

4) The 2nd-5th place top recruiters will receive all of the 5, 15, and 25 point awards, and a $400 gift card.

2nd – John Gruhn, Jackson County
3rd – Bob Ness, Emmet County
4th – Wade Myers, Clarke County
5th – Tim Hastert, Shelby County

5) The overall winner will receive the 5-25 point awards and a one-year lease on a 24’ x 7’ EBY gooseneck trailer.

1st – Clint Von Glan, Crawford County

County Incentive: Member Value Index Report

County cattlemen’s associations were ranked with a system formembership recruitment efforts called the Member Value Index. This index takes into consideration the following categories:

1) the number of new members to account for growth

2) the percent of renewal members to account for retention

and 3) the dollars of Fair Share above a county’s three-year average to assist in the education and outreach efforts.

The first two factors also include an adjustment against the statewide average, which means they county index may go down from the previous month if there is strong growth across the state. Just as we use an indexing formula for cattle, this process works to put counties on a level playing field.

The counties that finished in the top five of the Member Value Index for membership this year will each be rewarded with a $400 award to be used for a night on the town by the county board; an ICA representative will attend and there will be lots of opportunity to discuss all things cattle related!

1st – Sioux County
2nd – Allamakee County
3rd – Crawford County
4th – Union County
5th – Jones County

The prizes were awarded at the annual Carcass Challenge Banquet in Ames on Thursday, June 9. Thank you to everyone who attended, everyone who helped recruit members, and all of our membership recruitment sponsors!
2016 Carcass Challenge & Membership Awards

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mission Being Accomplished with Carcass Challenge Contest

Five years ago, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association developed a program with several goals in mind to benefit the cattle producers and friends of the industry of Iowa. As time has worked forward, we have seen those goals being met through the data collected and the feedback from the participants in the program. The Carcass Challenge Contest is a statewide event that provides information to every sector in the beef industry and could not have been a success without the support of everyone involved.

Three of the objectives behind the contest were to showcase Iowa’s feeder cattle genetics and feedyard performance, offer a fun, competitive statewide contest to demonstrate Iowa’s beef production advantages and raise non-dues revenue, which the ICA then invests in educational events for all sectors of the beef industry. One other objective was to provide the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) with not only funding, but a team project to encourage leadership skills with working with a group to achieve a common goal. The last objective was to provide quality information that producers could use to make sire selections and mating decisions based on the performance of the cattle. We have seen results from all of these objectives grow as the contest continues.

Nothing could illustrate this better than listening to a young producer from Marshall County who has been involved in the program since 2011. Andy Smith of Clemons, IA is a true testament of the Carcass Challenge Contest and how he has used the program to better his own operation. Andy’s first involvement started with a call to his brother, Eric, who is a veterinarian in Victor, IA that was asked by a 2011 YCLP class participant to sponsor a steer. This was the first that the Smith family had heard of either program and from there the family’s involvement has grown into a passion for the contest.
Andy and Michelle Smith with their children and Andy's parents, Steve and Sharon Smith.

In 2012, Andy joined the YCLP class and participated in the team project of working together to recruit steers from across the state to enter into the Carcass Challenge Contest. The interest in participating in the Carcass Challenge is a continuation of the Performance Beef Program that Andy, his brother, his sister and cousin all took part of while in FFA at the County Fair. Andy is interested in how the cattle perform and utilizing the data to make sire selections to enhance the carcass merit genetics in his cow herd.

Andy and his wife, Michelle, along with his mom, Sharon, and father, Steve, run an Angus based cow herd that stems from his grandpa’s Milking Shorthorn herd. While managing the cow/calf operation, the Smiths farm 700 acres of row crops and Andy is also employed by Accusteel. Through the process of showing cattle and using AI, Andy has phased out most of the Shorthorn and has tripled the size of the cow herd.

Andy has two major goals that he is continuously working towards. At this time, Andy sells most of his calves as feeder cattle, but is striving to build facilities to feed out his own calves all while building the cow herd. He is hoping to use the information provided by the Carcass Challenge to improve his carcass merit genetics to where all of his cattle grade Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and eventually to grade all Prime. This will be achieved through good management practices and genetic selection.  

“I use the Carcass Challenge information as a tool in making mating decisions and pairing cattle that performed well in the previous years,” says Andy. “It’s also the friendly competition that allows me to network with other producers from around the state and having a good time with it that makes the contest worth it.”

2016 Carcass Challenge & Membership Awards 

 On June 9, the winners of the 2016 Carcass Challenge were revealed at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center. Awards were given to the top steers in the group of 55 in many areas, but the two main categories were Carcass Merit and Retail Value per Day on Feed (RVDoF). Both are value-added calculations that consider important consumer quality issues such as tenderness and flavor; and also a key producer issue-profitability. RVDoF adds in a time factor (days on feed). Additional awards given in the contest were for the Highest Average Daily Gain, Largest Ribeye Area, Highest Marbling Score and the Chef Award, which recognizes a 12-14 inch ribeye with the highest marbling score. The winners all received a cash prize and jacket to showcase their accomplishment.

The top prize winner ($750) in the Carcass Merit category went to Tri Vet Associates & Pine View Farms LLC raised by John Wessel of Farley, Iowa. The Angus steer graded Choice yield grade two with a 14.5 inch ribeye area. The second place finisher ($500) went to Adams County Cattlemen raised by John Schuler of Cumberland. The third placed ($250) steer was raised by Eric Gerdes of West Pointe, IA and sponsored by the Lee County Cattlemen. Fourth place ($250) was taken home by Bard Materials that sponsored the Angus steer raised by Lyle Gossling of Farley. Rounding out the Carcass Merit category ($250) was the steer sponsored and raised by Brad Kooima from Rock Valley.

In the Retail Value per Day on Feed category, the top award winner ($750) went to the Delaware, Dubuque and Jones County Cattlemen. The Angus steer was raised by Jason Kurt of Cascade that graded Choice yield grade three with a 4.66 pound average daily gain while on-test. The second place award winner ($500) went to the Iowa Maine Anjou Association, American Maine Anjou and Audubon-Manning Vet Clinic. The Maine Anjou steer was raised by Kenny Grimm from Audubon. Third place winner ($250) went to Larry Johnson with Johnson Family Farms who also raised the red steer from Maquoketa. The fourth placed award winner ($250) went to Ryan and Alle Bailey of Diagonal. The Bailey’s also raised the Charolais x Angus cross steer. The fifth placed steer ($250) was sponsored by PMC Agri-Services, Dan & Deb Kent & Kevin Kent Construction and raised by Warren Moeller of Miles.

Winners in the individual categories are Knoxville Regional Livestock Market for having highest Average Daily Gain of 4.75 pounds per day. The winner of the Largest Ribeye went to Larry Johnson with Johnson Family Farms with the steer that had a 17.1 inch ribeye area. The winner of the top Marbling Score and the Chef’s Award went to the Akaushi x Simmental steer sponsored by Lee County Cattlemen.

We are already making plans for the next Carcass Challenge Contest. The deadline for registering a spring 2016 steer for the contest is October 5th. Details and entry requirements can be found on the ICA website under the ICA Programs tab. The 2016 YCLP class will soon be working on recruiting steer donors for the contest, but anyone interested in participating in the program can call the ICA office at 515.296.2266 to get involved.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

2015-2016 Carcass Challenge Steers
2015 - 2016 Carcass Challenge Steers

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Positioning for Success in the Economic Reset

“During the great commodity super cycle, ‘high prices cured high prices,’ as the saying goes. Record level commodity prices automatically increased fixed and variable costs for farm businesses. The price/cost lag effect finds that prices will decline at a much more rapid rate than costs. This creates negative margins where expenses and debt obligations can become problematic if sufficient working capital is not available. Now, the traditional price/cost lag is in effect not only in grain sector but for livestock businesses as well.”

This is according to Dr. David Kohl (as he shared in a recent Corn and Soybean Digest article) and few cattlemen would disagree. Input costs increased with the markets, but now markets have declined, but inputs have not.

Add that to the fact that many producers are facing huge losses of equity and liquidity and the situation becomes dire.

Dr. Kohl recognizes that the agriculture industry is in a major economic transition. “The great commodity super cycle that fueled much of the income statement and balance sheet growth in agriculture is in the rear view mirror,” he says.

At this year’s Southwest and Southeast Regional BeefMeets, Kohl will address producers’ concerns and answer some of the fundamental questions many have. What will be the emerging trends impacting agriculture and rural America’s bottom line in the short and long run? What are the latest trends and views in agriculture? What are some of the best management practices that could help you to position during this economic reset?

If you have other questions, be sure to bring them along to Dr. Kohl’s session, which will kickoff the events in Atlantic on June 28 and Riverside on June 29.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Increasing the Efficiency of Your Acres

We all realize that no two farms are the same and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to farming.

But what if we take that further? No two acres are the same. So maybe there shouldn’t be a one-crop-fits-all approach to managing acres within a farm or field.

Recent record high corn and soybean prices have caused many farmers to transition pasture acres into crops. But now that prices have retreated, is that really the most economical use of those acres?

Turns out, it might not be. With current commodity prices, significant portions of Iowa farmland may be consistently losing money, according to a recent study by Iowa State University agronomists.

The fact may be masked by the effects of crop insurance and the higher grain prices over the past few years, but the bottom line is that some acres aren’t making money. They’re losing money due to fertilizer costs, equipment costs, herbicide, and seed costs on acres that only yield 70 bu per acre while their counterparts chase after 200.

Dave Muth of AgSolver, an Ames-based company, is poised to help. By gathering publicly available data, AgSolver has projected profit results on acres across Iowa and helped farmers make better management decisions to recoup some of those losses. Around 6.2 million acres of Iowa farmland, which is 27 percent of the land devoted to row crops, is estimated to have lost $100 or more per acre in 2015.

That doesn’t mean those acres should simply be taken out of production, but they may need to be managed differently via fewer inputs or a transition into forage production.

Dave Muth of AgSolver will be at all four of ICA’s regional BeefMeets this summer to discuss more strategies to identify and revitalize your least productive acres using data from precision agriculture.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hiring & Retaining an Exceptional Workforce

Determination, leadership, and passion … these are only a few of the numerous traits that keep companies thriving. And most cattlemen exhibit those qualities everyday. But what about your employees?

Bob Milligan, Ph.D. of Agriculture Economics, is an expert on the best ways to hire and motivate farm employees. Milligan’s main question for all small business owners and managers is: how can you instill self-motivation in your employees? “The only real motivation is self motivation,” states Milligan. So, how can you, as a leader, create a positive work environment that will result in self motivation?

Fortunately for these tough economic times, increasing employee motivation doesn’t have to cost a lot. “The beauty of leadership is that, yes, it does take time, but it doesn’t cost money,” states Milligan. Milligan will share more about instilling self-motivation and being an effective leader during his presentation at the Northwest Iowa BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22.

Milligan will also cover hiring practices. How can you select the correct, dependable employees that will carry out the vision you have for your company? How can you build a staff that will not only survive, but also make a difference in tough economic times? It is worth the extra time to find the correct employee and not force a round peg in a square hole considering a “mis-hire” can cost up to double the amount of an employee’s salary.

Milligan will answer these important questions and more, sharing how to hire and retain exceptional employees while enhancing operational performance and profit margins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BeefMeets Bring New Policy Development Process

ICA is a grassroots policy organization, meaning policy is developed by members for members. Policy, through written directives or resolutions, provides input to staff and leadership when working on regulatory topics. A new schedule has been prepared for the 2016 year that incorporates several new events (BeefMeets and Committee Day) and the ICA Annual Meeting. The new schedule supports an effort to gather more grassroots input from more ICA members. Similar to past years, policy review will begin in June and culminate in December at the Annual Meeting.

BeefMeet District Breakouts

During the 2016 BeefMeets all 20 ICA districts will have a chance to gather to discuss membership objectives, and surface policy issues and topics through District Breakouts.  Members will gather into their ICA districts with a goal to informally surface policy issues from members (similar to the successful ICA Listening Sessions).  Through the District Breakout discussion a list of topics/issues will be recorded and sent to the policy committee chairs and production councils for drafting and consideration. All input is welcome, including drafted policies.

Members will also be able to provide input on ICA’s membership structure, recruitment timeline, member incentives, etc. In an effort to gather information for the membership committee meetings scheduled throughout the summer, the District Breakouts will gather input before the new recruitment year.

If you have not already registered for BeefMeets, click here to sign up.

Below is a list of the respective breakout sessions scheduled during the 2016 BeefMeets. If a member attends a BeefMeet that does not represent their district that is OK. They can join the District Breakout/County that is closest to their farming operation or visit the tradeshow.

Northwest: District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 7
Northeast: District 5, District 6, District 9, District 10, District 11
Southwest: District 8, District 12, District 13, District 17, District 18
Southeast: District 14, District 15, District 16, District 19, District 20

Call meeting to Order / Staff and Leader introductions / Adopt agenda
Review of 2016 membership year
Grassroots policy discussion
Other topics (ICA communications, programming, etc)

ICA Committee Day - Tuesday, July 5

A meeting will be held in July to review input from the District Breakouts held at the 2016 BeefMeets. ICA board members, policy committee chairs and vice chairs, and members of the feedlot and cow/calf councils will be invited to attend committee day.

The ICA Cow/calf and Feedlot councils will focus first on evaluating results from the BeefMeets and prioritizing the topics. If needed, Cow/calf and Feedlot Council members will provide additional input on the issues surfaced, or make recommendations for further analysis.

Later in the day each ICA policy committee will meet to: draft/revise policies, review expiring policies, and propose recommendations to the ICA board. Using the prioritized lists from both the Cow/calf and Feedlot council meetings held earlier in the day, committee chairs and vice chairs will either draft new ICA policy, or make revisions to existing policies.

If pertinent issues require immediate action from the ICA board, the policy chairs will make a recommendation to the board to adopt interim policy. This would include topics that require action prior to the Annual Meeting in December, or the NCBA Summer Conference held later in July. All other recommendations will be reviewed during the Annual Meeting in December.

ICA Annual Meeting & Leadership Summit - Saturday, December 10

All of the policy committees will meet during the Annual Meeting as in the past. The committee meetings will be scheduled throughout the day and all ICA members are invited to participate in the discussion. Through a progressive process, expiring policies are defined, researched, refined, and if applicable re-instated in the individual committees.

Once the committees have reviewed all the expiring and proposed policies, the recommendations will be reviewed in the resolutions committee which consists of the policy chairs, the executive committee, and ICA staff. Recommendations are either approved or denied at the ICA annual meeting by members, making the process come full circle.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gaining Confidence in Feeder Cattle Prices

As we all know, the cattle markets have been extremely volatile lately. There are several factors that play a key role in keeping our cattle industry markets representative. One of those factors is the Feeder Cattle Index and unfortunately, it is overlooked all too often.

The Feeder Cattle Index is a system that utilizes the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) Feeder Cattle Reports to create an index that provides investors with a reliable and publicly available benchmark for investment performance in the feeder cattle market.

The reliability of the Feeder Cattle Index depends on voluntary price reporting from feeder cattle sales. However, more feeder cattle prices are reported in the south than in the north. This issue causes farmers in the north to have an inaccurate price portrayal of what they are producing on their farms. Here in Iowa, a large percentage of our cow-calf operations are suffering from these misrepresentations, and may not be getting a fair price for the feeder cattle they are selling. Additionally feedlot operators lot projections are not truly accurate.

 “Our goal is to try to have a feeder cattle index price that more accurately represents what feeder cattle are worth in the North, so that it’s not weighted so heavily for the South,”stated Brad Kooima, a cattle producer and commodities broker from Sioux Center. Kooima stresses that voluntary feeder cattle price reporting will help both cow-calf producers as well as feedlot producers, and may lead to a more reliable feeder cattle futures market, as well.

In an effort to educate cattle producers on the importance and logistics of voluntary feeder cattle price reporting, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has invited USDA representatives to the Northwest Regional BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22, the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23 and the Southwest Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 28. ICA will also be publishing a feeder cattle index fact sheet in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Feeding Cattle Under Roof: What have we learned?

Over the past few years, new cattle buildings have been going up at an astonishing rate. Monoslope, gable roofed, and hoop structures are becoming more prevalent around the Iowa countryside, as the trend of feeding cattle under roof continues to grow.

As the cattle and feed markets continue to fluctuate and find new price points, producers yearn for the ability to grasp as much control of their cattle feeding operation as possible. Feeding cattle under roof gives producers some of that control.  The ability to control the effects of Mother Nature on a cattle operation can increase cattle comfort, manure composition, as well as the producer’s bottom line.
When cattle are fed outside on open dirt or grass lots, several factors can leech profitability from the farming operation, including decreased feed efficiency, health problems due to extreme weather conditions, and the loss of a vital farm resource; manure.

The benefits to feeding under roof are numerous, but one of the most impressive the increase in feed efficiency. How much is that efficiency worth? Jeff Pastoor, who works in Beef Business Development for Quality Liquid Feeds, says that the increase in efficiency literally pays off. “When we feed cattle under roof (in barns) we know we improve feed efficiency, and we know it improves enough to help pay for the building.”

Jeff Pastoor
Pastoor, who will present along with Scott Roskens at ICA's regional BeefMeets this summer, was quick to point out the other benefits of cattle barns, as well. “Inside the cattle barn, you’re able to keep the manure out of the rain, reducing run off. You’re also going to improve your manure quality and increase the amount of manure that can be used as fertilizer.”

Scott Roskens
During their BeefMeets presentations, Pastoor and Roskens will go into detail sharing how to manage cattle under roof in order to get the most from the investment.  They’ll cover pit additives and bedding requirements, as well as cattle health and animal welfare considerations. The experienced producer will pick up tips to maximize profits, while producers considering expanding can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of feeding under roof.

Feeding Cattle Under Roof will be presented at the Northwest Regional BeefMeet in Spencer on June 22 and the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23. Register today to hear these educational sessions and more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Can you get 10 years out of your heifers?

Patrick Gunn will cover current heifer development tools and strategies at ICA’s regional BeefMeets.

Traditional wisdom and economic analysis would suggest that most cows in the Midwest need at least four to six years of consecutive production to turn a profit over the sum of cash and fixed costs. However, Iowa State University’s Net Present Value decision tool shows replacements purchased at record high prices in early 2015 may need to produce upwards of 10 calves to pay for themselves based on current feeder cattle price projections.

That projection leaves many producers who expanded their herds in 2014 and 2015 with record high-priced replacement heifers wondering how they will pay for that expansion with calf prices falling.

“Now, perhaps more than ever before, longevity will be the key to profitability when it comes to replacements that entered the herd over the past two years,” says Patrick Gunn, ISU Cow/Calf Specialist. “However, managing, identifying and breeding for females that will maintain themselves in the herd for six years, let alone a decade, can be a daunting task.”

But with careful management, there are strategies that can help producers see a better return on their investment. For example, Gunn points out that, “Research has shown that 75% of future income in the cow-calf operation may be derived from heifers that calve in the first 21 days of the calving season as 2-yr-olds.”

Gunn will share current heifer selection tools and strategies to develop more of these females at ICA’s first annual BeefMeets at the end of June. Gunn will speak at the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23, the Southwest Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 28 and the Southeast Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 29. Registration is only $25 for ICA members and $50 for non-members. Register at

Thursday, March 24, 2016

ICA Bull & Heifer Evaluation Progam: A Symbol of Excellence

The first of 3 ICA Performance Evaluated Sales was held in Bloomfield on March 21. The sale was made up of the top 75% of bulls consigned through two groups – spring and senior yearlings.

The spring bull lineup that sold through the Bloomfield sale included 28 bulls with several ranking in the top 5% of the breed (Angus) in many different categories.  On average, this group would rank in the top 25% for both Weaning Weight and Yearling Weight.  If you sell your calves at weaning, the value index for Weaned Calf Values across the set of bulls ranks in the top 25%.  Likewise the value index over the entire group for Feedlot Value ($F) indicates that calves sired by these bulls will make the feeder nearly $60 per head more than calves by other sires – top 25% of the breed.  Add in the fact that most bulls in the sale will likely be calving ease sires and the unwavering strong average throughout the sale makes sense.

“In comparison to other bull sales in the Midwest over the last several months, the ICA Bloomfield sale showed strong support from cow-calf operators in attendance,” said Matt Deppe, ICA CEO. “The equation for this success starts with an exceptional offering by an exceptional set of consignors.”

The overall average for the sale was $3549.  Senior Yearlings averaged $3700 while the spring yearlings averaged $3489.

According to Matt, sale offerings like the ones at the recent Bloomfield sale are hard to find.
“In the case of all of our sale offerings this spring, it’s going to be hard to find the depth of sale offering regardless if you’re looking for bulls that will inject profit potential to a future set of feeder calves or herd sires backed by strong maternal pedigrees to produce heifers for herd replacement.”

If you missed the Bloomfield sale, we have good news. There’s a wider variety of breeds represented and possibly even better genetics at our Dunlap sale on April 1.

The ICA Dunlap sale will offer 44 bulls from this year’s test group through 4 breeds – Angus, SimAngus, Simmental and Charolais.  For more information on this year’s ICA Bull Test sales at Bloomfield, Dunlap or Tama, make sure to checkout test information online at or call Carrie Horman at 515-296-2266.

Our final Performance Evaluation Sale will be held May 6 in Tama.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Youth Beef Team - Making a Difference

We are so impressed by the youth we encounter in the beef industry. From 7th graders who are entrusted with an investment of bred heifers worth several thousand dollars to middle school and high school students who spend their free time advocating for the beef industry, our youth show a dedication and commitment unlike any other.

Lauren Mosher, from Marshall County, is one of those impressive youths. As a Youth Beef Team member, Lauren participated in a television interview on Discover Marshalltown. And for the entire 23 minutes, she did a great job answering the questions asked.

Other Youth Beef Team members have also been busy across our state. Youth Beef Team (YBT) is a program of the Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation, open to junior high and high school age kids who are interested and excited to promote the beef industry.

The YBT training equips young cattlemen and women with the information and skills they need to not only speak out positively for the beef industry, but also to point out the advantages beef offers to our health, our environment and our economy.  After their training, members are encouraged to go out and promote beef through presentations, farm and school tours and editorials throughout their community and surrounding communities.  These activities can be done as individuals or groups.

YBT members earn points for their activities based on the type of activity and the people reached.  At the end of the year, members are awarded prizes for the various levels of point attained and are recognized at a breakfast at the Iowa State Fair.   YBT seniors are also eligible for scholarships in the spring.

 The Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation currently has 85 trained members and are looking to train more.

The “award year” began August 1st and since that time 32 kids have completed 132 activities! The “award year” will end July 30th and our awards breakfast will take place on Saturday, August 13th and 9:30 am in the Penningroth Sale Arena on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  In order to receive an award, youth must complete at least five activities throughout the year.

Current Top 10 Point Standings:

Name: Points earned: Number of activities:
Chase Hurd 49 11
Will Hurd 38 7
Frances Jackson 46 7
Reiley Martinez 60 9
Lauren Mosher 172 25
Leah Mosher 68 9
Connor Murty 41 6
Layne Murty 35 5
Emily Pansegrau 35 5
Megan Pansegrau 90 14

A full listing of point totals is on the website.

Congrats and thank you to all the youth have participated. With these young leaders in our industry, the future looks bright!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keeping Up with the Times

Farming has changed so much over the years.

Gone are the days of Old MacDonald and Charlotte's Web.

In their places stand modern, efficient, technologically advanced, specialized farms, including the modern cow-calf operation, advanced seedstock operations and of course, the modern feedlot.

As part of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association's mission to "grow the Iowa beef business through leadership, advocacy and education," we provide free educational materials and events throughout the year to help our members keep up with the times. Whether it's related to animal health, facility design, manure management, or other hot topics, ICA has the information you need to make sure your business is incorporating the latest science and technology to keep you successful in the future.

Educational Resources

  • Magazine - The Iowa Cattleman, ICA's monthly magazine, includes educational articles from a variety of sources. The magazine is also available on our website.
  • Fact Sheets - ICA has a number of fact sheets on various regulatory topics and cattle health topics. They can also be found on our website.
  • Forums - Cow/Calf and Feedlot Forums have become a regular part of ICA's offerings over the past couple of years. These educational events are held around the state, and thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, are free for attendees. The speakers cover timely topics relevant to the specific industry sector, and a trade show offers attendees a chance to visit with vendors.

Upcoming Educational Events

ICA has three Feedlot Forums coming up the first week in March.

Wednesday, March 2, Osage Public Safety Center, Osage, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday, March 3, Jones County Extension Office, Monticello, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Thursday, March 3, Blue Grass Community Center, Blue Grass, 5 p. m. – 9 p. m.

The feedlot forums will offer a market outlook and discussion on the quickly approaching Veterinary Feed Directive. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen to area producers share their environmental compliance stories and learn from state officials the state’s response plan during a Foreign Animal Disease outbreak. The events are free and include meals and a trade show.

Contact the ICA office at 515-296-2266 to RSVP.

Your Input Wanted

Is there a topic you'd like more information about? Let us know! We will use your feedback to plan future educational resources and events!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Proud to be Part of the ICA Family

by Katie Olthoff

February 17 will mark 6 months since I joined ICA as the communications director. And a lot has happened in that time.

I now know more about cattle than I ever dreamed possible. I grew up on an acreage in central Iowa, and my husband grew up showing cattle, but I'm the first to admit - I knew little to nothing about the animals and the industry when I started this job. Now, after editing six issues of the Iowa Cattleman magazine and sitting in on numerous educational sessions offered by ICA, I think I'm ready for my very own cow-calf herd.

I've met cattle producers from every area of our state. And I've been so impressed by their dedication to the industry, to their farms, to the land and to their livestock. There seem to be innate qualities of selflessness and respect that are passed from generation to generation when one's sole purpose is to care for another living creature. And those qualities are alive and well in Iowa's cattle industry.

I've learned that cattle production is more than just cowboys and grass. Even though the appearance of a cow-calf operation hasn't changed much over the years, the technology and genetics that lead to a healthy, productive herd are outstanding. And changes in cattle facilities, which have environmental benefits as well as animal welfare benefits, are advancing as quickly as any other industry.

I've had a personal transformation, as well. I was a stay at home mom for almost 5 years, working just 10 hours a week for the Iowa Turkey Federation while raising my two young sons. And the transition to full time hasn't always been easy. Working full time has forced me to get organized, and it's forced my husband and children to become a little more self-reliant, which is not necessarily a bad thing. :)

When I look back at my first six months here, I count my blessings. "New" can be scary, and I was more than a little nervous back in August. I wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision, wasn't sure if this position was really a good fit for me, and wasn't sure how my family would adjust to my new schedule. 

But I think it's safe to say that my fears were unfounded. My position here combines two of my passions - writing and agriculture - and allows me to be creative while working to improve farming in the state of Iowa. My coworkers here at ICA are great, and their dedication to the needs of Iowa's cattle producers is unmatched. I am continually amazed by their focus on the mission of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association and the way they ask for and respond to feedback from Iowa cattlemen. 

Our members and leaders are top-notch, making a difference here in Iowa and across the country. As I slowly meet more of them and get to know them, I realize more and more that the ICA network is more than a membership association - it's a family. And I'm proud to be part of it.

Katie Olthoff is the communications director for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cattlemen's Guide to the Caucuses

The First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses are only a week away!
(Find your caucus location here.)

While the Iowa Cattlemen's Association has not endorsed any candidates in the presidential race, we have been following it closely. There are several hot issues that could affect the beef business in Iowa.

Curious where the candidates stand? ICA intern Mathias Peters researched the stance of each candidate on 4 big issues: EPA's Waters of the US rule (WOTUS), the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Estate Tax and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Check out the candidates' views on these issues in the lastest issue of the Iowa Cattleman magazine. 

Here are some thoughts you might use as you prep for engagement, influence and eventually a vote:

1. Identify the topics of importance to you, your family and your livelihood.

From our membership’s perspective there are several topics that routinely come up in conversations across the state.  In addition to the standard tax relief needs of our industry other topics drill down toward the sustainability of our industry.

      i. Foreign trade is a priority and Iowa benefits from foreign trade agreements to the tune of $9 billion each year.  In 2015, nearly $292 worth of gross value per fed steer came from the export market.  Regardless of the size of your operation or the sector, the foreign trade value applies to your operation. Free trade agreements level the playing field regardless of world economic factors.

     ii. An alternative to the Conservation Reserve Program that provides a Working Lands component is a very important topic for many of our members across the state.  A “set-aside” program that pairs grazing livestock with conservation and will ultimately do a much better job of preventing the land use competition that is currently experienced with producers renting both pasture and crop ground.  This topic too will likely address the candidate’s perspective on farm subsidies.

    iii. The candidate’s view on regulatory burden is very important.  Whether it’s the process the EPA worked through to implement a new rule or other agencies alignment with outside interests, regulatory burden continually causes challenges to how practices are adapted and their efficacy.
2. Engage your voice – it’s the only way to help the candidate understand our industry and get others thinking and involved.

     Step one: Be bold and ask the questions…at the town hall, on the phone and via email.
     Step two: If the answer isn’t clear, ask more specifically.
     Step three: Share your experiences and interests with others.
     Step four: Support the candidate you feel most qualified and important.
     Final step: Get everyone you know and more out to vote.

3. Take time, show up and vote – and make sure those in your family and community do, too.